4×4 Books History
Four Wheel Drive, by Andrew St.Pierre White
Below you will find details of Andrew St.Pierre White’s books, and most importantly, The Complete Guide to Four-Wheel Drive.
For two decades it was called, ‘South Africa’s Off-road Bible’. The book was sold uninterrupted for 24 years in major bookstores in South Africa, ending in 2017. It is now out of print.
Buy my book from Amazon:
Four-Wheel Drive. 2017 Edition.
The following images were the proposed cover design for the 2014/15 edition.
The first edition was released in South Africa in 1993. First print run was 10 000, with a 5 000 reprint after just nine months. Published by William Waterman.
In 1994, with my wife Gwynn, we wrote, The Complete Guide to 4×4 Trails in Southern Africa. 15 000 copies were printed and sold within 12 months. And additional 6000 were printed.
CNA (Central News Agency, Johannesburg) approached us and asked for a combination of our two books, The Ultimate Guide to Four-Wheel Drive in Southern Africa, to be sold under their Red-Label brand. 8000 were printed, and all were sold within six weeks. They did not ask for a reprint. Vehicle on cover: Isuzu KB PU.
1998 and the second edition of The Complete Guide to Four-Wheel Drive. 10 000 copies sold in about 18 months. Vehicle on cover: Land Rover Discovery.
In conjunction with Toyota South Africa and the launch of the Land Cruiser 100 series, I published a book combining the contents of my Guide Book and Trails book. It was called Off-Roading in Southern Africa. If I remember correctly, we printed 5000 copies. Toyota purchased them all.
The second edition of the Trails book. 10 000 printed. We ran out of them three months before the next edition. Hard cover. Vehicles on cover: Toyota Land Cruiser-80 and Hilux.
The 4×4 trails books were selling faster than the guide books, and this one, published in 2000 was our fastest selling book ever, selling 10 000 copies in about 10 months. Another 5 000 copies were printed and sold within the next six months. Hard cover. Vehicle on cover: Toyota Land Cruiser-90 Prado.
This one was my favourite cover art of all my early books. 1999 and the third edition of The Complete Guide to Four-Wheel Drive. Hard cover, 340 full-colour pages. 8000 printed and sold. Hard cover. Vehicle on cover: Mitsubishi Pajero.
Trying to adapt to the ever changing market, we tried something a little radical. We published a folder called The Complete Guide to Four-Wheel Drive Trails and Tuition. It was a loose-leaf binder. The idea was that every year we would print additions. It begin very well. CNA purchased 1000 of the 5000 printed, and put them in their stores for Christmas. All 1000 were sold before Christmas! It was the “bestselling non-fiction” book in CNA that Christmas. We never got a follow-up order, because of mis-management in the CNA stores. Apparently there were five copies lying the the warehouse, and because not all had been sold, a re-order was not possible. And because all the stores were ordering in numbers of ten or more, no order was fulfilled, and not re-order was possible. Madness! No wonder CNA was struggling so at the time. Soon afterward the book buyer that we had worked with for almost 10 year left, and his replacement hardly ordered any more books from us.
In 2004 the decision was made to change the format. The tall format was very expensive to print as there was a lot of paper wastage. The original format was conceived as being easier to fit into the average glove-box, but in truth is was often a tad too long. We went for a standard A5 because this was the first edition where advertisements were offered to the 4×4 industry. I brought in an outside consultant for page design, which remains to this day. There were also two cover versions of this book. The one for the UK (1000 copies) had a Land Rover Series-2 and the South African edition (8000 copies) had a Ford Ranger PU on the cover. This was the last truly hard-cover book I did, and remains my favourite of all these publications.
Also in 2004, our first Afrikaans version. Die Volledige Gids tot Viertrek-Ry. It was not a success. Even Exclusive Books in Bloemfontein preferred the English version. If I remember, 5000 were printed. Hard cover. Only about 2000 were sold.
The Complete Guide to 4×4 Trails and Expeditions in Southern Africa. Published in 2003 and reprinted in 2004, this was our last 4×4 trails book. It was becoming so expensive to research such a book properly, and the sales were steadily dropping, due mostly because of the many 4×4 magazine publishing 4×4 trails information which was more up to date. We printed 10 000 copies and they were sold in about 24 months. This was also our first black and white publication. Despite it having no colour pictures, it still sold well, and we could probably have sold another 10 000 copies. But I know that the information was becoming outdated, so did not print more copies.
A special edition of The Complete Guide to 4×4 Trails and Expeditions in Southern Africa published for Toyota South Africa. I do not have records of how many were printed, but I think it was 2500. Soft cover, the worst cover design I ever did. Content was the same as the edition above.
In 2007, the decision to put a Mahindra Scorpio on the front cover was not a good one. Sales fell, and for the first time, I had books left over when we published its replacement in 2009. You can’t put an unpopular vehicle on the front cover and expect it to sell! About 1900 copies were pulped of the 8000 printed.
This one was published late 2009. The A5 version was working well and attracting advertising. This edition sold 8000 copies. Despite my conflict with Mitsubishi Pajero owners, this was the second time a Pajero featured on the front cover. 6000 were printed.
A brand new design inspired by the folks at Jakana Media, who co-published this edition. 328 pages, full-colour, soft cover. 6000 were printed. Front cover vehicle: Toyota Land Cruiser 105. This is very probably the last book I shall publish in paper-back.
In September 2017 the final copies were delivered to a reseller in South Africa, ending an uninterrupted run of 24 years as Africa’s bestselling 4WD book.
Today the latest digital version can be ordered from Amazon, in both digital and paper versions. Here is a link.