Happy 2006: Book for a Buck
Why cann't Lubert Stryer write a book that would cost only $10?! While I was an Undergraduate student, most of the books I liked from the Western press were too expensive for me (perhaps meaning that I am too poor for my profession). Some vernacular books were cheaper. Books from ELBS (English Language Book Society) were cheaper; but the Russian books (on metallurgy, chem engg, numerical sums, math, politics, etc... ) were the cheapest --- most cheaper than even vernacular text books. I remember buying textbooks for Rs 10 to 25 during 1980-1987! The only competition could have been the ABTA testpapers for Bengali students (like sample papers for board exams) that used to sell for only Rs 10! Someone explained that Russians were 'progressive', that's why they subsidized books. My biological father, with his discourteous and irritating lower-middle class Bengali Brahmin mouth, never appreciated the subsidy that went into my education and training; ---- much of the rupee/dollar came from government money; rest came as voluntary labour of 'progressive' elders (I was one of them when I was too young!)! My biological father's mouth was so bad, and his public contribution so insignifant, that even Russians stopped publishing cheap books for me! And I have eventually become a 'revisionist convert'!
After I went to the USA for Graduate School, I found books expensive even in the USA! I was not only poor in India, I was a poorer American (perhaps relative income comparable to Mr. Dole's father, or Mr. Daley's father)!
When I was very young progressive individual (barely in my 10's), one of my "homeless friends' wanted me to write a book, and wished it were a German book with Russian price! What a blessing! As I evolved, through stages and steps, by teaching Biology and Mathematics in my own language for about ten years, learning to write like the Russians (e.g. "Why Am I Like Dad"), copying the style of "Cambridge" and "Harvey" lecturers (of course I am not yet regular lecturer in Bangalore colleges run by the AICTE -- I am nowhere near Prof YJ Rao) for improving quality and presentation, making friends with "Scientific American editors", writing for an established Academic journal, and pushing my self through the unfashionable details of the printing press, I reach this year of 2006. Would I be able to print research pamphlets that would compete with the Germans, Harvard, Cambridge, but bear a Russian price tag? Apparently, I came to know later, one Tamil professor was also obsessed with scientific publishing like me!
Why is it so difficult to write a book? Why could not my professor, say Dr. P. Sengupta who later became IIChE president, could not publish a book that competes with Coulson-Richardson? Why could not Dr. GS Tendolkar, a famous Indian metallurgist, publish a book replacing German' fame (powder metallurgy)? It took nearly twenty years of my efforts (1982-2002) to understand why P Sengupta could not become as immortal as Coulson! After I became wiser, I understood that I can only write like Roitt (Immunology) or Feymann (physics)!
How about a German book on biotechnology at a Russian price now? My goal in Bangalore was to publish lectures (pamphlets) for ten rupees each. Based on the facility available to me (off set printers) around Bangalore, I can publish a decent book (with many multi-coloured illustrations) on Biotechnology priced at Rs.100, medium size flyers priced below Rs 50, and lectures priced Rs. 10! Imagine getting science and Engineering books in "Dollar Bill (Chicago)" for a few dollars ($1 to $3)!
Price being taken care, I need only worry about my German content --- hopefully I would be successful before I get "too old"!
Dec 31, 2005