It has been three months since Anciet Iran  was published in Vancouver. As expected it was greeted with enthusiasm and in the words of one local Iranian TV presenter, when he first introduced the book "dasteman khali bood", we were empty handed, but now we have something to give to our children.
This project started more than a decade ago when I was searching the public libraries for books for children on Iranian culture and history. While there was ample information on many ancient civilizations like Egypt, China, India, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, there was virtually nothing to be found on Iran. I was saddened by the lack of material and always dreamed of the day all kinds of books on Iran would be available for all young readers around the world.
My dream was realized mainly because of the revolutionary new technology that has emerged with digital photography and new advances in book publishing. Thirty years ago publishing a pictorial history with 264 high quality images would have been the task for professional and established publishers with resources and lots of money.
Still, I could not dream of doing something like this, had it not been for presumably a young Iranian (whom I can not even remember the name) contacting me a few years ago. In his e-mail he mentioned that his team in his company was working on a new computer game called "Prince of Persia" and they wanted to be accurate about the clothing. I could only recommend a few books with pictures of Achaemenian, Parthian and Sasanian personnel.
However, it intrigued me to find out about the history of clothing in Iran. Although I found many academic articles on the matter, there was not one single book on the subject. Again frustrated with seeing illustrated and pictorial history of clothing for all nations and none for Iran, I became determined that something should be done.
It took four years, support and sponsorship from friends and relatives, two years of running around to get permission from the authorities to photograph objects in the museums in Iran and thousands of dollars to purchase photos from the major museums around the world. The history of clothing is in its final stage of production and will be published in 2009. It was producing this book that brought to our attention that since we have all these fantastic photos, why not do books for young readers at the same time.
While the clothing history is around 400 pages with close to 500 photos and very expensive to publish and needs a lot more work, the children's books sounded a lot easier. In the end, we realized it was not as easy as we thought, mainly because we had no experience either putting a book together or publishing it.
We changed the design of the book when it was half way finished, because we were not happy with it. We also found out that our original Canadian editor was not as professional as we expected. Nevertheless, we continued the work and looked for other options.
It was all made possible with lots of help from Iran lovers. A friend hired the best book designer in Iran and another purchased more photos from the Art Resource in New York. They represent most of the major museums around the world. A professor in Europe gave us a dozen of photos on rarely seen objects from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, including pictures of the famous Pazyryk rug and other objects from the Achaemenian period. We have only used a few of these photos in our Ancient Iran book, the rest will be a feast for the eyes once published in the History of Clothing in Iran.
So here it is, the first of the four books to cover Iranian culture and history for young readers in a pictorial format. The book has been received very well by all in Vancouver, including the public and school libraries and has already won a bonze medal from Moonbeam Children's Book Awards in the US. No doubt winning a prestigious award will bring the book to the attention of the readers and buyers in North America.
The work is not finished of course; The Medieval and Modern Iran book will appear in the summer of 2009 and next will be the Women of Iran and then, a shorter version of the History of Clothing for the young readers. Once these four are done, we, that is, I, my daughter and all the supporting friends will continue to produce books on different aspects of Iranian history and culture.