Year 2003. There was a yawning gap in Kerala between the demand for and supply of books for serious reading. Bookstores sold fictions aplenty as well as popular non-fictions. Books that introduced newest thoughts and path-breaking findings in history, sociology, economics, politics and theology were not available even at the libraries of institutions for higher learning. But the universe of knowledge and knowledge production were expanding at a rapid pace with tools of self-criticism growing alongside. Other Books was started not as profit-making bookstore, but to bridge this gap, by distributing among teachers, students, independent researchers and general reading public books that mattered.
For four years Other Books had gone on as a distributor and was a hub of serious, committed readers. In 2007, its investors and well-wishers thought of publishing. Though subaltern lives of Kerala have been chronicled and narrated in international forums through academic journals, they were rarely narrated in the form of books. First, the focus fell on the history and the lives of Mappilas that were and have been enriched by diverse experiences of colonialism, anti-colonial resistance, creative and critical adaptation of modernity, diaspora..etc. Second, there is an equally rich, but silenced, lives of the Dalits and other subaltern communities. Third, there are post-modern and post-colonial discourses and narratives in the arena of theology and religious studies that crave translation in Malayalam, which would throw light on refreshing religious thoughts in Kerala (hence, translation of Ziauddin Sardar’s Desperately Seeking Paradise and Amina Wadud’s Quran and Women), Fourth, rare classical works in religion, theology and mysticism that mainstream publishers rarely focus on were to be translated.
Come 2014, Other Books in around 60-book old with titles on subaltern history, gender studies sociology, anthropology, Islamic reform, mysticism etc.