Monday, October 28, 2013

4 Reasons Why I Do Not Give A Discount (Or Give My Book Away for Free)

It is now well known amongst my friends that I have published a book. Most of them are genuinely happy for me, and many have purchased a copy (or several!) of the book from me at full price. I am also happy to say the book is now available via Eastern Toybox for those in Canada.

To all those who supported my effort and purchased my book, I would like to say a sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart.

However, sometimes I occasionally get the "Hey, do your friends get a discount" or "can I get your book for free" question. Most of the time it's in jest and I laugh off the good natured ribbing. Sometimes though, it's a passive aggressive statement with multiple shades of intent. The book sells for $US 24.99 on Createspace, for $US 24.99 on Amazon USA (they sometimes apply a discount on their own initiative), and $CAD 26 at Eastern Toybox. I made a resolve early on that I will not be discounting the book at all when I sell them personally to friends or relatives, and NEVER give anyone a free copy. These are the four reasons why:

  1. It seems that "Business is business" and "separating business from pleasure" is an Islamic thing. The Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not give the Prophet a discount, so why should I give anyone a discount? In the famous hadith of Jabir ibn Abdullah, this young man bargained over the price of his camel that he was selling to the Prophet, until he got a price that he felt comfortable with. Of course little did he know that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was merely looking for an excuse to help Jabir financially without hurting his dignity!

    To reiterate, in Islam, when you conduct a business transaction, it is perfectly allowed to charge a price for your product that you think it's worth, and it's up to the other person to purchase from you, or not, regardless of the relation between the two of you.
  2. The book is a quality product that I have made and it took a lot of time, effort and money. When you ask me to give you the book for free, you are saying that essentially, my time and effort have no value.

    I have not forced anyone to buy my book. I have not even sent an email out to my friends asking them to purchase it. The ONLY email that I have sent out to all of my friends is ONCE, at the beginning, when I merely informed them about the book getting published, and my asking price for it. I also told everyone that should they wish, they can place an order through me, and if not, can they kindly forward the information of the book to anyone they think would find it useful. That was it.

    So if I am not putting a gun to anyone's head obligating them to buy my book, or treating them any differently if they didn't, then I certainly don't feel I have to discount my book for anyone.

    My book is a product in the marketplace. If there is a demand for it, if people value it, then God Willing it will sell. If someone does not feel it's appropriate to pay $25 for it, that's their decision and I can respect that. But when someone wants the book, but is not prepared to pay for it, that says more about them than the product.
  3. Muslims have to be prepared to pay out of their pocketbook if they want quality products.

    For example, we want our Imams to be "cool", to be an expert of not only the Quran and Islamic theology, but to have knowledge of the sciences, to be experienced with the modern world, to know about the culture of the land, to "identify with the youth", to be an excellent orator, to be good at interfaith work, etc. etc. The list goes on. Yet, when it's time to pay the imam, the masjid boards dither and do not want to pay him an appropriate salary that will enable the imam to enjoy a high quality of life. Caliph Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam, was not prepared to give up his business and attend to the duties of the Caliphate full time until he was given an appropriate wage - which he later claimed was insufficient and demanded a raise.

    Today, we want high quality educational Islamic books for our kids. We want proper Islamic stories depicted on the silver screen and television using high quality production techniques (the Omar series being a prime example). We lament the lack of proper Islamic education for our kids, or the inadequacy of good Islamic Sunday school speakers. We want gyms in our mosques, not to mention daycare facilities and equal women's places. Yet, when it comes time to donate or contribute financially for all of these, we balk. We do not support the local mosques. We are hardly involved in their planning board. We pirate lectures and movies. We do not patronize Islamic conferences and belittle their efforts. And when someone publishes a book or makes a movie that, in their opinion, raises the bar, they are shunned for not giving their friends discounts or "free" tickets.
  4. I plan to use most of the proceeds of sales for future dawaah work. Other books are in the planning pipeline, with a book on Surah Qasas scheduled for release in April 2014. I also need to purchase some photography equipment for images of even higher quality than the first one. These all take resources, and I have shunned from asking anyone for donations for free. My plan is to produce a product and make it self sustaining as far as possible.
As it is often said, most of the time you get what you pay for. And this is why I refuse to discount my book for anyone.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Surah Kahf Illustrated Quran Book Now for Sale


I wanted to personally give you all the good news that the illustrated book on Surah Kahf (with 146 pages containing over 220 images, built using Lego bricks and other toys, with the full exegesis (tafseer) of the Surah Kahf) is now out for sale.  It’s available primarily on (US, Canada and Asia), just in time for Eid. Here are the links to order the book:

Amazon (for readers in USA, Canada, Asia, Africa)
Amazon (for UK customers)

Amazon (for readers in France)ÅMÅŽÕÑ&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=mezbauddin+mahtab

Amazon (for customers in Germany)

Currently there is a sale on the book (regular price US$24.99, but discounted on available for early orders. I have ordered previously on, and have been a highly satisfied customer with their prompt shipping and customer service, and can thoroughly recommend them.

Just a bit of note about the price – it’s expensive to print a book of images (as opposed to text), so I have priced it almost at cost. Any proceeds from the book is going towards purchasing a new camera macro lens and light box (for better pictures in the future) and more dawaah work with the next Quran book (on Juz 30), insha Allah, amongst other things.

For those who live in the Greater Toronto Area, I have another offer on the book. They can place their order through me and it will cost them only $25 (no taxes, no shipping). To do that, please email me with your contact info so I can get in touch with you. I will be placing my bulk order for all GTA customers on Oct 13, 2013, insha Allah.

Here are some images from the book: