How Osho wanted his books to look

Remembering Here&Now

Book now available! Another excerpt from Anando’s book, Osho: Intimate Glimpses.

Osho books collage

What was Osho’s involvement in his books?

Osho had a very precise vision about his books, how they should be produced. They were very important to him, because they contain the essence of his message.

From the very beginning, when his talks were first published in the sixties, he was involved in designing the covers and creating the titles for the books. In Pune in the seventies, there was a whole department responsible for publishing his books, and every question about editing and design was referred to him. He sat for photo sessions so there were always new photos of him on the covers – he was very clear that his photo should be on the book jacket. His rules for his books were that they should be hardbound and of the best quality.

At the ranch, Sheela (his then secretary) had published his books as cheap black and white paperbacks. She said that all the money was needed for building the city, and there was no money for publishing his books in the form he wanted. Osho didn’t like those paperbacks at all. His books were a major expression of his work. He said Sheela didn’t understand his work. However, she was the one with control of the finances, which meant control over the publishing.

It is interesting – people sometimes ask why didn’t Osho stop Sheela from committing all those illegal acts at the ranch. But he couldn’t even get his books published by her the way he wanted!

Funnily enough, Hasya said something similar when we returned to Pune. She told Osho that Jayesh, who was in charge of finances, had said that for now there wasn’t money to publish his books in the way he wanted. Osho immediately took off his diamond watch and handed it to her, saying, ‘Then sell this watch to pay for the books’. Of course, she didn’t take it – and somehow the money was found! But a few days later, when Hasya was not present, Osho referred to this and told Neelam and I that Hasya and her boyfriend Jayesh didn’t understand his books, just like Sheela.

Shortly after, Jayesh had all the printed Osho books moved from the Commune to a warehouse outside the city. When Neelam informed Osho, he looked very surprised. He asked us if we had seen this place. We said no, and he said we should go immediately that day and check if it was clean and appropriate for his books to be stored. And he said they should be returned to the Commune as soon as there was a new place for them. They never did come back.

So, his books were very important to him. He also wanted them to be sold at the cost price, so people could easily buy them.

When I started working with him, he again spent a lot of time involved with his books. They were his great love. I told him that paperback books were becoming fashionable, and could be produced quite beautifully, with stiff colored covers; they didn’t have to be like the ones produced on the ranch. It would also be much easier to get them published by outside publishers. He said, ‘No. My books are not just to be read once and then thrown away. They are to be read over and over, and people will keep finding deeper meanings in them. So they have to be very beautiful, and hardbound so that people will keep them.’

Osho designed the covers himself, with gold and silver embossing, and chose which photo would go on each cover. He repeated that his photo should always be on the cover, and we arranged several photo sessions of him for this purpose, keeping a master collection of the ones he chose.

I have in my notebook many of his designs for book covers, including for my own books – the books he asked me to write. I would show him the proofs of all the book jackets before they were printed, and the final books as soon as they came from the printers and Neelam did the same with the new Hindi books; he kept in touch with every stage of each book. Right up to the very end, even two nights before he left the body, I was showing him the latest Osho Times newspaper and the latest book that had just been printed.

I realize now – because I have a library of all his books – that when you compare them with other books, they have a unique beauty. The books that Osho designed really stand out – the gold and the silver embossing, the rebel logo he designed to go at the foot of the spine. They light up; they have such a life to them compared to other books.

I remember one question that came to Osho; it was from a sannyasin who was trying to get Osho’s books published in the West again, because after his highly publicized deportation from America, many of the companies that had previously published his books dropped them; they didn’t want to publish Osho anymore. This person said, ‘I can get a publisher, but they don’t want to put your picture on the cover and they don’t want to put your name.’ And Osho said, ‘Then don’t publish it.’

Also, he wasn’t very keen on compilations being made from excerpts of his discourses, based on a certain topic. This idea had been proposed to him by Amrito as a way to get publishers interested in producing his books again. He agreed reluctantly, as a short-term experiment to get publishers interested again. But basically, he wanted his books to be published as a complete series of discourses because he wasn’t really talking on topics that might be of interest to our minds. He was talking to get us beyond our minds. He was using certain topics merely to illustrate his points about consciousness and awareness. So if you pull out bits on a certain topic – well, that often wasn’t the point of what he was saying. [p. 81-84]

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Anando was Osho’s last personal secretary. She is now a group facilitator and writer.

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