That's sad. I wasn't aware that I spent 3+ months writing the thing just
to have people take it. At least a library, which serves an important
public need, buys each copy they loan out. It's nice people are so
willing to take away a person's means of making a living. I'm sure these
people think book authors are rich and don't need money. I'd like to
show them what a rich author drives: a 1992 Toyota Tercel with 217,000
miles on it.
Someday I'll have to find a way to get Countrywide, my mortgage lender,
to let me send them images of money that I download for free from
It is a serious problem. The media business is going digital, it has too.
Unfortunately, digital files can not be made un-copyable any more than
water can be made unwet. Pay for media, books, magazines, etc. are all
The problem seems to be that the business model on which this is founded is
dead. The publisher's business is based on a difficulty of deliverability.
Now that everything is digital and the internet can pass megabytes in
seconds, there is no real way publishers can make money. It is a dying
business, much the same way that you no longer see hay stands on the side
of the road for horses. It will take time, but all limitations will be
artificial and something that can be circumvented.
The next person to make a billion dollars will come up with a way to pay for
the creation of media creation.
Why don't you beat the people to the punch, create a web site for the book
and smear it with google ads? Make it a good site, indexed, searchable,
with samples etc. You may end up making more money with the site than with
I can even host it if you can't find anyone.
Thanks for the ideas. I've already pretty much dropped out of writing
traditional published books because it's so hard to make a living at it.
There are a few old hands still in the biz, but they tend to fall into
either of two categories: They're merely revising existing books (far
easier than writing a new one each time) or they write books to further
another type of business, like consulting, speaking, or newsletter
publishing. I recognize almost none of the names on the roster of
authors represented by my agent.
The thing about the ad-supported Web page concept is if it really paid
better than traditional publishing, everyone would be doing it. There
are no hidden secrets in this biz, and the action goes where the money
is. Publishers would be rushing to put their books up on their own pages
as, afterall, it's a lot cheaper than printing on paper.
There are still plenty of risks -- probably more than in traditional
publishing -- in ad-supported Web publishing. There are black hats who
know how to steal your keywords, dropping you from the top-10 Google
position to the bottom 100...or worse. There are even those who steal
pages outright, and change them with their own Gooooooogle ads. These
people know how to add and drop Google AdSense accounts faster than
Google can keep up with them. In a world where there are crooks with a
computer, really nothing is safe.
I've already mentioned here that I am working on something different
outside the traditional book market, but that's about all I can say
right now. I won't make a billion dollars with it, but if it helps put
new tires on my wife's car, I'm happy.
Yea, I have done some stuff with mags and a couple book publishers in the
past. Nothing in my name, but collaborations. Not my day job, so to speak,
but a little extra income. Right now, there is nothing. I've gotten calls
from a few publishers asking if I had any ideas or knew anyone.
Practically every subject has a book and no one is buying books.
Yes and no. I can't name names, but some big companies are looking into
this. The problem with paper publishers is that they don't get it yet.
Conceptually, the sort of books you write are not well suited for paper
publication. They are best suited for an interactive web site that can be
searched and read as needed. Also, web sites are easy to update with
improvements and commentary.
Without giving too much away (funny how we all have our secrets), IMHO the
business of informative and HOWTO books is dead, and rightfully so. The
internet replaces that sort of reading much more naturally. The problem
isn't what you write or do, Gordon, but it is the format and medium in
which you do it.
I believe there is still a strong market for good writers who do research
and present ideas well. The hard part is inventing the facilitation of the
product. The encouraging part is that you, as the author, can self publish
and take the middle men (publishers, teamsters, retail outlest, etc.) out,
but the discouraging part is that there is no longer a publisher to give
advances or manage the marketing.
Well, as you have seen, that is true no matter what. There is always abuse
"Conceptually, the sort of books you write are not well suited for
publication. They are best suited for an interactive web site that can
searched and read as needed. Also, web sites are easy to update with
improvements and commentary."
I would disagree on this.
Ever try to find a web page a few years after you first saw it...and
now you really NEED that technical information?
Dead links are the scourge of the Internet. If those who profit from
the money I spend on technical publications expect me to use the
Internet for significant long term technical references, they will need
to step up to the plate and provide long term web support for that
information. Publishers, like manufacturers, are providing less and
less support as time goes on.
Another sensitive subject that a significant number of Internet users
are on dialup....and will always be on dialup. This precludes dealing
with large amounts of data...pdf files, video, large downloads. This
problem of lack of bandwidth is not going to go away. I also note that
in field situations where I have no Internet connnection I can still
use a reference book at full bandwidth.
Anyone who thinks web based references are the only references in the
future are deluding themselves.
That is exactly one of the problems that does need to be addressed.
See, I think that is wishful thinking. I bet you make more use of the web
than you are willing to admit. Yes, books are good for a static "snapshot"
in time, but not very good for current reference. By the time a technical
book is published and distributed, it is almost by definition obsolete.
Well, I think economics demand that reference books die. They are obsolete
before they get to the shelves, they cost a lot to print, move, and take up
a lot of shelf space at the book store that otherwise could be filled with
candy, games, mugs, or coffee.
While I agree there is, in fact, a need for reference "books," the billion
dollar question is how do you may a viable business at it. People say they
like books, but all the publishers know, they just don't like to buy them.
Like movies, for the time being, there will be blockbusters, but slowly the
big screen movie business is dying because of cable, satellite, and big
screen TVs and sound systems. Information and HOWTO books are being killed
by a glut of information on the web.
In formation on the web is also easier to use. First, its already in your
home, no need to go to the book store and find it, second, you can "find"
what you are looking for with Google, third it is mostly free, lastly, you
can print it, take notes on it, and put it in a notebook.
You also may want to consider that for the vast majority of us, the
Internet is "free"....yet.
In time you will see Internet sales taxed.
Internet usage will also be taxed like the State and Federal fuel taxes
you are charged to maintain the highways you use.
Call me old school, but I like printed books, and I still buy'em a lot (if
you want to give me a good present, go to my amazon wishlist). I like to
read them, I like to have them. e-book is ok, but I'm not so sure if I'll
have it in 10-20 years from now. My Z-80 book is still on my library.
While the CTRL+F feature is good at any time, I never had problems finding
something in a paper book (if index is well done).
Yes, but do you need your Z80 book right now?
Persistence of medium is just one problem, of course, but the real issue is
the information contained within.
Think about trying to find a specific item of information. You have half a
dozen books on a subject, you need to find all 6 and skim through the index
and/or chapters to find what you are looking for.
I have a lot of hobbies. One of which is cars. I have more or less given up
on my books and deal almost exclusively with the internet for information.
How do you find the torque pattern for tightening the heads of a small
block chevy engine? On the net, it is easy.
Absolutely, and I hope people don't think I meant to lessen it, however, the
same exact content, one printed on type writer paper in monospaced courier
and another printed with multiple aesthetic fonts with highlights, bold,
and italics, which is easier to read?
Content is vital, but format is important as well.
Well, I don't need my car while I'm writing this... it's all a question of
Interesting enough, last month I was paginating that old book and some
things that didn't make sense when I bought it do make sense now that I'm
more into robotics and stuff.
Of course I only keep the ones that really have some persistent content. For
example my Word 6.0 book is long gone, and that type of book I believe I
will never buy again since tutorials are available on the net for virtually
any type of software.
I'm halfway completing my thesis for my master. I have to do much more than
skimming through all 6 books I have in my shelf, plus the other dozen that I
borrowed from the library. Too_many_tools also have an excellent point on
citation. While it is theoretically permitted to cite online resourses, it
practice it is academically frown upon.
I agree, it depends very much on the type of content. Who needs a printout
of a datasheet for example?
Again I agree, but the inverse is not true though.
I'd have to say I wouldn't *trust* a Web page with something that could
warp the head if the info is wrong. You'd have to know the page is from
masters of the art, or you're just asking for trouble.
I'm a sucker for original repair manuals, and I pay good money to have
one. It's part of the overall experience of the hobby. What's a classic
car without a classic manual? I have one for my '73 Z, and my '74
I have a VERY extensive collection of Popular Science, Popular
Mechanics, and similar magazines from the 30s to the late 60s. I've seen
some of them scanned and available on Web pages. Dude, it's not just the
information on the page! It's the smell of the paper, the original
five-and-dime store receipt for the magazine tucked inside, the old
Addressograph label on the front cover.
Granted, the cerebral reaction to old books and magazines is not what
we're talking about here, but I think it does point up the fact that
different people have different reasons for preferring one medium over
That is a problem, yes, although, you can usually pick out the gems from the
stones if you basically know what you are doing.
As do I, I have a 1987 Pontiac Firebird, I built a new motor for it, added
fuel injection, new transmission, etc. I have the Haynes book on it, but I
also have a notebook with all my changes and notes. There are times I need
really *really* obscure knowledge. :-)
Nostalgia, not withstanding -- I would never part with my old Byte and
Popular Electronics mags -- the economics of these things are no longer
People may prefer certain media, and no one, including myself, is arguing
that. The point I am making is that the economics have changed and that
sort of media costs more than it makes, or at least doesn't offer enough
profit incentive to maintain it as a business.
I would *love* to go back to the 80's and 90's where these sorts of books
sold a hundred thousand copies, but these days, you're lucky to get 10,000
Think of it as the difference between tube and transistor amplifiers, or
vinyl vs CD, or 8-track vs cassette. The content remains the same, and
people will argue the various merits of the various medium, but the facts
are that times change and things that don't make economic sense go away.
The difficulty, it seems to me, is that the economic viability of the market
is dwindling but the replacement market has not been created [yet?]. This
is leaving a defacto standard, the internet, as a weak substitute.
ORIGINAL manuals only! I also collect the original ad material and
Stock Plymouth Valiant Brougham, 318 V8 (the small one), automatic. Even
has the original AM-only radio, though the radio is for looks only as
the sound system uses a new CD player. Last weekend I burned something
out, and the electrical system is dead. Something else to work on now
Because it's a V8 it's not my daily driver. And it has a rear seal leak
so it goes through oil. Plan to fix that when we get the engine rebuilt
(has 190K on it).
Both the Z and the Plymouth are "project" cars for me and my son. By the
time we're done with them we will have spent far more money on them than
I spent more on my Newport than it was worth when I replaced the
heater motor. I think somebody who took a more rational view than I
do would argue I spend more on it than it's worth every time I fill
the gas tank... but it's my baby, inherited from my mom. Soon as I
get my wife's car (2000 Intrepid R/T) on the road, Baby goes in for
some serious body work.
Joseph J. Pfeiffer, Jr., Ph.D. Phone -- (505) 646-1605
Department of Computer Science FAX -- (505) 646-1002
I am so past the point where the FSM even makes sense. By the end of the
summer, I may be able to remove the ECM all together.
I have rewired the transmission so I can lock up the torque converter at
will, I have put an after market fuel injection system in it, and it
doesn't look like the dashboard relies on the ECM all that much.
My dream is to remove *all* silly GM writing and replace it with a computer,
a P.C. system, running Linux, of course.
Sweeping generalizations aside, the truth is that book sales in general
are down from pre 9/11 days, but it's not just at the hand of the
Internet, because the sales trend also affects books where the Internet
provides no affective alternative (mass market fiction). The dynamics
include increased TV watching, video games, handhelds, longer job
commutes, piracy, and of course Web surfing, which includes surfing for
the latest Angelina Jolie pictures, not just programming examples for
robot arm kinematics. There are a lot of things competing for a person's
The business of publishing a printed book includes the reality of
dealing with two major chains in the US that dominate the sales of
books. They have very specific sales requirements based on "turns" over
a given period of time. They like their shelf space to earn a certain
amount of money per month.
The problem is if sales of a book dip below a pre-programmed sales pace,
it will not be automatically reordered. The book is effectively dead at
that point, even though it might still have an audience. Special orders,
Amazon, and specialty online sources save such books from early
extinction, but the royalties from such sources are no comparison to the
sales from traditional Borders and Barnes & Noble stores.
I will still buy a good programming book rather than rely on online
resources because I have found, in general, that books provide better
and more consistent examples. I can usually also find what I need
faster, because search engine like Google have been so poisoned by the
black hats. And, while I can bookmark a page, I cannot (at least not
with the browser I use), tag a specific part of a longer page with the
equivalent of a Post-it. I cannot write in the margin of the page with
my own notes. I resort to printing out pages, but this is
counter-productive and wasteful.
Sure. And the Patent Office should be closed down because everything
that can ever be invented, has already been invented. (Actually, it
/should/ be closed down, because it is a haven for the most egregious
kind of abuses, but that's a separate thread).
Everything I've ever had published has been leaked onto the Internet.
My first book was released at a time when the publisher was
experimenting with including the text as a PDF on an accompanying
CD-ROM. That PDF showed up on the peer-to-peer networks before the
official release date. The publisher no longer offers this text option,
My second book was physically dissected by someone and digitized using
a page-fed scanner. (Actually, at least two such "someones" did it). I
believe the electronic downloadable edition also had its DRM stripped
off, and that became a third electronic edition. All of those editions
are floating about on the networks.
I anticipate my third book will encounter a similar attack as soon as
it comes out of copyedit.
It hasn't stopped me from starting my fourth book.
If you can see the full headers of the post (my isp doesn't
carry the binarys groups) you should see a line with
NNTP-Posting-Host: and an IP address. This address will usually
tell from which system/account the post came from. A complaint to
the ISP about posting copyrighted material might get the account
terminated with the message that people do care.
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