Attn: Gordon: Your "Electronics for Dummies"

Gordon,
Your Electronics for Dummies was post last night to Alt.binaries.e-books.technical with a lot of other books that would be
very useful to newbiews in the group.
The Hirudinea.
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DaemonWalker wrote:

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 binaries newsgroups.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

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 suffering.
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 a publisher.
I can even host it if you can't find anyone.
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mlw wrote:

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.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

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 and cheating.

Cool, let us know.
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"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."
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.
TMT
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Too_Many_Tools wrote:

Yes, that is a HUGE problem.

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.
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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.
TMT
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"mlw"

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).

Format is nothing without content.
Cheers
Padu
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Padu wrote:

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.
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"mlw"

Well, I don't need my car while I'm writing this... it's all a question of time. 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.
Cheers
Padu
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mlw wrote:

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 Plymouth.
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 another.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

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 practical.

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 copies sold.
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.
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Get the FSM! Haynes is no substitute.
I'm curious as to what the Plymouth is -- my daily driver is a 1978 Chrysler Newport.
--
Joseph J. Pfeiffer, Jr., Ph.D. Phone -- (505) 646-1605
Department of Computer Science FAX -- (505) 646-1002
  Click to see the full signature.
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Joe Pfeiffer wrote:

ORIGINAL manuals only! I also collect the original ad material and brochures.
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 they're worth.
-- Gordon
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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
  Click to see the full signature.
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Joe Pfeiffer wrote:

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.
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Padu wrote:

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 time.
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.
-- Gordon
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mlw wrote:

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, btw.
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.
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On Thu, 27 Apr 2006 10:07:20 -0700, Gordon McComb

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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