Interview (Part 2) : Prof. Syamales Datta

We spoke to Prof. Syamales Datta about all things real estate valuation and self-publishing. Check out Part 1 of the interview if you haven’t already.

Since real estate is an illiquid asset what would you advice is the right way to valuing real estate?

Truly, real estate has poorer liquidity than the various alternative investment assets that are available in the general investment market. In valuing real estate therefore, the valuer is to choose a higher rate of capitalization of net income or potential net income from real estate. In deciding on the final rate of capitalization directly, the valuer should also carry out analysis of similar transactions of real estate in the same location or in similar locations.

Liquidity is just one aspect for which a higher rate of capitalization of net income is appropriate. The other aspects that render investment in real estate disadvantageous are the risks and the operating expenses of real estate. A summation of all such factors for each of which a further addition is given is to be applied to the yields of gilt-edged securities. Against this some deductions are to be applied for the prospect of capital and rental appreciation of real estate. The final adjusted cap rate thus derived from yield of gilt-edged securities is the one to be adopted as the final rate of capitalization.

Right now the real estate market is going through a bearish cycle. How do you think distressed assets should be valued?

A distressed asset is such an asset where the owner of the asset is forced to sell well below the market value. In valuing distressed assets, the property is likely to be sold at a considerable discount from market value even when the market is bullish. In a bearish market as prevailing at present, there is no indication that investors in shares or gold are planning to switch to real estate. Neither is there any impressive real rate of growth of income, nor is there any improvement of the unemployment situation. The method of valuation does not vary whether the market is bearish, bullish or in-between.

Rental yielding assets are becoming a popular investment avenue. What is the right way to evaluate them?

It is true that rental yielding assets are becoming a popular investment avenue. The income approach to valuation is the right way to value rental yielding assets. The two principal methods under the income approach are (1) the income capitalization method and (2) the discounted cash flow method and both are used to value rental yielding assets.

What is your next book project about?

Rather than publishing another paperback soon, I am currently studying. I am at present engaged in reading up aspects of real estate valuation not known to me including emerging standards, case laws and research publications. I do present my papers at symposia and review a few peer works when I don’t have a lot to cook.

What is your experience with self-publishing?

Till 2012 I had no experience in self-publishing. Two editions of my earlier valuation bestseller were published in 1993 and 2004 by a traditional publisher, the contract was coercive and royalties were small leading me to finally self-publish. I discovered that operating from home requires the self-publisher to understand the soft copy creation process thoroughly and design beautifully adhering to a desktop publishing standard or hire professional services.  But rather than not print ever it is easier to produce books with imperfect cover design or interior layout and pagination since you can update these things. My source files are managed using version control software.

My Publishing Proxy and son Ansuman Datta ( and I would like to thank Linux,  LibreOffice, GIMP, Mudranik Technologies and antivirus software makers for making publishing easier.

My earnings from the sales of Mastering Real Estate Valuation from its release during the beginning of the golden jubilee  celebrations of the Institution of Valuers (IOV) at Hyderabad on 29 Dec 2018 to 31 Mar 2019 propelled my net profit for the financial year to 1159% of that of the previous fiscal, i.e., I had a growth of 1059% and this last net profit surpassed my lifetime royalties from traditional publishing. I’m now selling online exclusively vide

I have had the good fortune to have drafted syllabi of several real property valuation examinations. The problem with many institutes and universities including some open universities is that they are unsuccessfully trying to follow the paradigm of creating their own course mat by a specific deadline. And prior to that deadline by a few days they are getting it authored by those who do not respect the student’s needs. In doing so they have gone the way of uncertified computer training institutes. The way to break this habit of producing substandard course mat in a sellers’ market is to quality test using standards as good as the world’s top 100 course mat producing universities and institutes and if they fail the tests you allow reference books to take their place and not endanger life and property with substandard course mat. Print-on-demand (POD) is the way to be accurate.

Thank you so much for sharing your views and educating the investor on how to approach valuation! Wish you all the best for your future endeavors.

Now restrict the shipping to India only

We have been shipping the books internationally and this is very convenient for most of our authors and readers.

However, in certain circumstances, authors need to be able to restrict the shipping from to India. It generally happens in one of the two cases

  • The rights of the book for outside India are with someone else and hence the authors can not sell their books published through there.
  • The author wants to introduce a low price version specifically for Indian market.

So, we have recently pushed out this feature where you can specify if you want your books to be shipped only within India. If is the only place you have published your book at, you probably do not need to bother about it. But if your case is either of the two mentioned above, you can use this feature. Log in to your account, go to your book page and click on edit link. Under the field “This book can ship to”, select “Only India” and save the book. Now, this book will not be shipped to any location outside India.

Even more power to our authors! 🙂

[Self Publishing Guide] Self Publishing and Print on Demand (are not the same)

A meaningless word that is used very often, not just by newbies, but also by several industry insiders is on-demand publishing. On-demand publishing really does not mean anything. It is the printing that is done on demand. Self publishing is not the same thing as print on demand. This excerpt from our self publishing guide explains the same. It also talks about the two printing options available to publishers in the form of Print on Demand (POD) and Offset Printing.

If you have not already done so, you may want to read the following articles from this series before reading this one.

Self Publishing and Print on Demand (POD)

There is a difference between self publishing and Print on Demand. The two terms are often used interchangeably by most of us since POD is the most prevalent technology used by self publishers. But the two are not the same.

Publishing is the entire process of preparing the manuscript, editing, designing the cover, printing, distribution and marketing. Printing is only one step in the process of publishing. At the printing stage, the publisher has to choose between two technologies – offset printing and POD. If the publisher is confident of selling a large number of copies (500+), then he may opt for offset printing. If the sale is not expected to be in large numbers, then even a normal publisher may prefer POD. In short, publishing is the entire process whereas POD is a technology which can be used by a full-fledged publisher as well as a self publisher.

POD versus Offset Printing

POD is a relatively new printing technology where the cost of printing does not depend on the number of copies being printed. This is essentially digital printing, where each copy is printed independent of the other.

POD has its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of POD

  • Flexibility to print even a single copy at a time. The unit cost of printing one copy and 1,000 copies does not vary much.
  • Each copy can be personalised. You can even dedicate different copies to your different bosses or friends and earn brownie points, for instance.
  • The content can be updated over time at no cost since the printing is done directly from a soft copy.
  • Since one can print exactly the number of copies ordered for, with no significant addition to costs, there is no need to maintain dead inventory (unsold copies).
  • The entire process is faster.

Disadvantages of POD

  • The cost per copy is slightly higher as compared to bulk printing done by offset.
  • Although black and white/grayscale printing quality is now at par with offset, accurate colour reproduction may be an issue in some cases.

Offset printing is a more prevalent and older technology. This involves setting the book in certain specialised software and cutting a plate of the image. The inked image is transferred (or ‘offset’) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. The plate making process is costly and once made, the plates cannot be corrected or changed. Revision in the book requires cutting new plates. But once you create a plate, you can use it to generate a large number of copies. Therefore, one needs to print a large number of copies (typically 1,000+, minimum 500+) to distribute the cost of plates over all those copies. As a result, printing just a few copies is not cost-effective with offset printing; the cost per copy decreases with increase in the number of copies printed.

Offset printing too has its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Offset Printing

  • Per copy cost is low if number of copies is high. Works well with the current distribution setup in the industry.
  • Quality may be better, especially for coloured printing/photo books.
  • Wider choice of printing paper and other production options are available.

Disadvantages of Offset Printing

  • Large upfront investment in bulk printing. Because of high setup costs, short print runs are not feasible
  • Need to maintain the inventory and logistics

So, you are not a publisher?

And don’t want to be one either?


This is how a lengthy conversation explaining what is ends with many people.

Yes – one problem of our business is that it takes lot of time to explain to people that we do not fit into any pre-defined category from traditional publishing. Most importantly, is not a publisher!

What does this mean?

  • Books published through are published by their authors or other people/organizations behind them – not by
  • does not do any ‘selection’ of the content except to ensure that it is technically fir for printing and that it is not against the law or our terms and conditions.
  • The entire responsibility of content, its accuracy and quality, its preparation lies with the author/publisher, not with Same is the case with Book Design, Marketing, Promotion and Sales.

What does do then? provides tools and services to help you through all these steps of publishing. Meaning

  • There are detailed information and guidelines on preparing your book
  • There are tools for formatting and cover design (e.g. blog to book tool, cover design wizard)
  • There are reasonably priced services for editing, designing etc. if you need help in preparing the book
  • There is an e-commerce store where you can list your book for free and sell it without bothering about logistic hassles of printing, maintaining inventory and shipping them
  • etc.

What’s the future direction will take in that case?

  • Create More technological tools to make the publishing process easier and financial burden minimal
  • Figure out some innovative ways to help authors widen the reach of their books
  • Develop Technological Solutions for filtering out good content from bad

Ouch! So, you will never, never be a publisher? – the platform will remain the platform. It will not become a publisher. We may or may not have a parallel business as a publisher, but that would be under a separate imprint most likely. We haven’t decided anything on that front yet.

That’s sad! can’t help me become the next Chetan Bhagat.

In all likelihood you are right. Exceptions can occur, but Print on Demand based self publishing model is not optimized for creating best-sellers. It works better for books with niche audience or publications for small, targeted audiences. It is also good for casual publishing.

‘Best of’ with Self Publishing Guide is here

From today, our special collection ‘Best of’ is available on the shelf (of our stall at Bangalore Book Festival 🙂 ). It showcases chapters from some selected books at These come from diverse genres like fiction, memoirs, self-help, children’s writing etc.

The book also includes the first self publishing guide specific to India. Although a lot of information about self publishing is available on Internet, an author looking at Indian market is under-served. The Indian scene is quite different in terms of how players of publishing industry work as well as how readers choose and buy the books. This guide will prepare self publishing authors to work in Indian conditions. We will start posting some excerpt from the guide here soon.

Meanwhile, check out the collection at’s stall (#288) in Bangalore Book Festival 2009.