There’s a new kid on the South African indie-publishing block… well, to be more accurate, a couple of old fogies! We are Max and Sue Hoppe, a couple from PE who are, let’s just say ‘past our prime.’

How did El Gecko Publishing come about?

For us, it’s been quite a ride, from having an idea, to deciding we believed in it enough to take the large financial gamble of making it into a physical book, to figuring out how to get people to see and want the book, to printing another, and so-on. And it all started with a CLIMAX! 

Climax windmill

Our road trips have always involved hunting for windmills. With the advent of digital photography, and a slower style of travel, we’ve built a huge collection of windmill photos, many of which are of the Climax brand. As we explain, in the intro to our first book, ‘Of course, the name Climax lends itself to all sorts of double entendre. And even more so when the more accurate term ‘wind pump’ is used, or in Afrikaans, ‘wind pomp’. After all, everyone enjoys a good “pomp.” 

It is precisely this play on words that led us to come up with naughty interpretations for our hundreds of windmill photos. Since the idea for the book was born, we’ve had a huge amount of fun, looking for shots and matching captions. But it’s a long and expensive road, from an idea to a real hold-it-in-your-hands book!

With no prior publishing experience, we jumped in the deep-end of indie-publishing with The Climax Collection: The secret life of Windmills, a tongue-in-cheek look at what windmills might get up to when they think we aren’t looking, and have been delighted with how well that book has done (and continues to do!) We’ve learned a lot along the way, and still do on a daily basis.

books on sale
Max and Sue Hoppe
Max and Sue Hoppe

Some other print titles from El Gecko Publishing:

The next book to be printed was Travels troubles with Koos. This one takes a slow journey around some of the towns and back roads of Southern Africa, in Max’s less-than-reliable car, called Koos, who is also past his prime. It is part travel-guide, with informative maps and info, part travel-journal, detailing routes, adventures, and escapades, always made unpredictable by Koos’ erratic behaviour, and part coffee-table photography, and is also doing well around the country.


After many requests for “more windmills,” the latest book to go to print is The Climax Collection 2: The secret life of windmills, which continues the fun; this time eavesdropping on songs windmills might be singing, when they think we aren’t listening.

Publishing e-books:

At this stage, it’s still early in the growth of El Gecko Publishing, and full-colour books need to be printed in large quantities to make them viable, so although several titles are currently available, not all have gone to print yet. In addition, many Saffas and overseas visitors want books with a South African flavour, and prefer the convenience of getting them online. So the next logical step was to produce all our titles as e-books, available on the El Gecko Publishing website. 

In addition to the original print books, the new e-books are:
•    Travels troubles with Koos, as well as the Afrikaans version, available as Padlangs probleme Met Koos. 
•    More Travels troubles with Koos 
•    Travels Abroad, which looks at our journeys further afield, to Turkey, Bulgaria, the Emirates and Jordan, through the lenses of South African travellers. Bursting with photos, maps, stories and information about the destinations, they show some fascinating “off-the-beaten-track” aspects of these destinations.
•    Some lovely black-and-white photos from these trips did not fit into the format of the colourful book, so we wrote four companion books, namely Postcards from Turkey, Postcards from Bulgaria, Postcards from the U.A.E., and Postcards from Jordan. These are sparing with text and let the photos do the talking.

In the pipeline:
•    Further Travels troubles with Koos is coming soon. 
•    Max has written a series of fun children’s books,Tales from the Waterhole, about African wildlife, which are currently being illustrated by Theresa Hardman.

So, lots to look forward to!

The result of all this has been so positive, that one small idea and some windmill photos, has turned into a growing indie-publishing enterprise. Watch this space!

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