At first glance, the book does not look like a photobook.
I wanted an unassuming cover; something simple and straight-forward. I wanted to let it unfold slowly, build a connection with the photographs, the stories and the people photographed in it. Pick up on the clues scattered over the book and at the end, read the whole fable. I wanted them to enjoy the book, as they would have enjoyed coming to a new city. The intention was to create a mystery and not have the cover explicitly say what the book is about. Just like how a new city unveils itself slowly as we explore it, I wanted the book to do the same with every turn of the page.
Why did you choose self-publishing over getting the book published by professional publishers?
Book Cover by Rahul Muzumdar
I did go to professional publishers initially. We went through all the legalities and made a contract, but I did not find the process conducive. They would have been able to publicise the book on a larger scale, take it to book festivals and events. However, that meant compromising on my say over various aspects of the book like the production process or even the printer. I wanted the book to have a certain feel, be of a certain size, which would not have been possible with the professional publishers.
In India, photobooks are often assumed to be thick and heavy coffee table books. I did not want to go down that road. Also, the photographs were shot on my iPhone, so it just made sense to control the production. And I was not in favour of the 10% to 15% royalty scheme, especially after working on the book for almost five years, keeping everything aside. I didn’t reach out to any foundation or organisation for a grant, but relied instead on my own network. I felt that if I am taking such a big risk, why not go a step further and publish the book myself? I would have control over the whole process and if I did make a profit, the entire reward would be mine.
However, it does not all come down to just the economic factors. In this learning process, I realised there are many readers interested in such books. Not everyone can travel two hours to an art gallery for a book launch, but those who want to buy the book will buy it without any hesitation.