Manu Herbstein author is published in the Americas, Africa, and Asia - and worldwide on-line

In the late 1990s new forms of electronic book publishing and electronic book reading devices were emerging. Manu Herbstein's agent Richard Curtis was a pioneer in the field. When the author could not find a trade publisher for his first novel, "Ama, A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade," the agent agreed to publish as an e-book and print-on-demand title. Only the revolution in the publishing industry and the commitment and dedication of Richard Curtis made publication possible: together they made history as "Ama" became the first e-book to win a major literary award.

The author


Manu Herbstein (b. 1936 near Cape Town, South Africa) holds dual South African and Ghanaian citizenship. In the 1960s he worked as a civil and structural engineer in England, Nigeria, Ghana, India, Ghana again, Zambia and Scotland. He returned to Ghana in 1970 and has lived there since. He began writing seriously as he approached retirement. His first novel, "Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade," won the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best First Book. In the United States, e-reads publishes a print-on-demand edition, which is also available for the Kindle. This web-site is a rich repository of primary and secondary texts and images related to the novel.

In a radio panel discussion Manu Herbstein said simply "I am a South African. I grew up in apartheid South Africa. I studied at the University of Cape Town, left South Africa in 1959 and didn't go back until 1993." He returned on a visit from Ghana where he had acquired Ghanaian citizenship. The gap is explained by alienation from white minority rule. He was featured in the Swiss adress magazine's "Focus Sudafrika" article, shown left, which under the rubric "Words in Resistance" addressed how literary masterpieces of South Africa are built on the base of a great tradition. His companions in the feature are: Breyten Breytenbach, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, and Zakes Mda. The article notes:

As an engineer, Manu Herbstein has constructed bridges, highways and power plants throughout Africa, and on journeys learned and explored the continent's history. His first book, the monumental novel "Ama, A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade", in 2002 won the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Herbstein has skilfully woven four year of intensive research into the narrative of the life story of Ama who as a young woman in 1775 was captured and enslaved.

The first publisher


Richard Curtis, a prominent literary agent, is the founder in 1999 of e-reads , defined as "a trail-blazing reprinter of out-of-print genre and general fiction and nonfiction by leading authors." From the most popular categories of fiction and non-fiction, he acquired a stellar array of titles by big-name authors. His approach to publishing is radically simple: "It consists of an author, a reader, and a server, and everything else is irrelevant." Thanks to economies produced by electronic text-delivery systems, he created what he terms an "author-centric" publishing model in which the author contributes more to the publication and promotion processes and is rewarded with a much greater share of revenue than is paid by conventional publishers."

The South African publisher [Note on Picador Africa]

The Canadian publisher [Note on Red Deer]

The Indian publisher [Note on Bookmann]

The Ghanaian publisher [Note on Techmate]