Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How will Trouble do in September?

  1. 2.0 way up there

    20.0%
  2. 1.5

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. 1.0 on par with the string benchmark

    20.0%
  4. 0.7 about as in April of this year

    20.0%
  5. 0.5 as in July

    20.0%
  6. 0.3 running out of steam

    20.0%
  7. 0.1 almost dropped out of sight

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Jul 6, 2008 #1

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    How will "Trouble" do in September?

    "The Trouble with Physics...and What Comes Next" has been out for almost two years now. It started shipping from Amazon in August 2006 (before the official September date).

    It is the only popular book I know that discusses the progress being made in non-string Quantum Gravity (QG) research---and describes some of the various QG approaches. So how the book sells, compared with popular stringy books as a benchmark, is an indicator that bears watching.

    I wish there were other indices to watch besides this one. Certainly the appearance in the July Scientific American of a fine article by members of the Utrecht QG group is a hopeful sign. Here's the link:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/3366486/SelfOrganizing-Quantum-Universe-SCIAM-June-08
    And there are other indicators like conference participation, research publication rates, citation numbers, projected faculty hiring and so forth. But no other index of public awareness.

    The bottom line is that there seem to be changes occurring both in comparative public recognition and research emphasis as regards string and non-string approaches to the major problems in fundamental physical theory. I guess one can call them sociological changes. And one way of keeping track is to see how this book does.

    So we calculate the ratio of "Trouble" salesrank to the average salesrank of the five currently most popular stringy books. If the ratio is 1.0 that means that Trouble sales are roughly on par with benchmark. If the ratio is 2.0, then judging by salesranks Trouble is doing twice as well as benchmark. If the ratio is 0.5 it is doing half as well. And I would say that if it goes down to 0.1 that would mean the book has (at least temporarily) dropped out of sight.

    So how do you think Trouble will be doing this September 1?
    Here's the record since September 1, 2007. Readings taken at noon pacific time.


    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    5 July 1.0
    6 July 1.0
    ...
    ...
    1 September ??


    Here's a link to the previous forecast poll's conclusion. We had four competing predictions. Mormonator obviously should have won but there was a last minute upset :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2008 #2

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: How will "Trouble" do in September?

    To give an example of how the ratio is calculated, I'll show it for 7 July.


    ...
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    5 July 1.0
    6 July 1.0
    7 July 1.3
    ...
    ...
    1 September ??


    "Trouble" salesrank was 3140.
    the five most popular stringy books that day, and their salesranks were
    elegant 2744
    parallel worlds 2786
    fabric 3837
    susskind's book 4626
    elegant (hardbound) 5885
    for an average of 3975.6

    so the ratio was 3975.6/3140 = 1.3

    Roughly this means that, judging by salesranks, Trouble was doing slightly better than par compared with the string benchmark. Its salesrank was roughly equal, or slightly better, than the average we use for comparison.

    In fact, par has been typical for a good part of of June and first week of July---although unusual circumstances did cause a brief drop in the index right around the first of July. This on-par standing, recently, has persuaded me to guess that the Trouble salesrank will not dwindle away by the end of summer, as I earlier expected, but may hold to around par for a few more months.

    The book has already had a rather long market life. It has been out for almost two years, during which several other wide-audience books about fundamental physics have entered the market and then largely disappeared from view.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2008
  4. Jul 11, 2008 #3

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: How will "Trouble" do in September?

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    11 July 0.6
    ...
    ...
    1 September ??

    After several days before and after 1 July of bouncing around 1.0 the index has again subsided to near 0.5. I feel less optimistic now than I did earlier about its prospects for September. Mormonator's forecast could well prove right.
     
  5. Jul 13, 2008 #4

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    not dropping out of sight just yet

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    12 July 1.4
    13 July 1.3

    ...
    1 September ??

    Smolin's book has had an odd sales history. It doesn't seem to want to drop out of sight (as several other physics books for general audience have after a year-or-so's prominence). Something always seems to stir up further interest and revive sales. It may be percolation through expanding demographic layers as Mormonator suggested earlier. It could also be that new books coming on the market ignite interest in this one.

    At noon on 12 July "Trouble" salesrank was 3846 and the stringy top five average was 5225.0. On 13 July "Trouble" stood at 2488 and the top five benchmark was 3179.8. A new book about string, "The Complete Idiot's Guide..." is consistently among the five most popular string titles these days.

    I confess to being quite puzzled by the way the index has been jumping around lately, but I haven't given up on my guess that it will still be around 1.0 in September.
     
  6. Jul 14, 2008 #5

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: not dropping out of sight just yet

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    12 July 1.4
    13 July 1.3
    14 July 2.1

    ...
    1 September ??

    book seems to have 9 lives, like the cat who keeps coming back.
    remarkable resiliency, at noon 14 July (Bastille Day) its rank was 2488 and the five most popular stringies were elegant,fabric,parallel,complete idiot's guide, and hyperspace---their average rank was 4321.6. So the ratio was 4321.6/2488 = 2.1
    I almost didn't put 2.0 on the poll, as a possible choice, thinking that from here on it would never get that high
     
  7. Jul 20, 2008 #6

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: not dropping out of sight just yet

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    19 July 1.1
    20 July 1.0

    ...
    1 September ??

    Uneventful days. Yesterday noon the benchmark was 3989.6 and Trouble's rank was 3520.
    Today benchmark was 3862.8 and Trouble was at 4033, about par with the stringy average.

    Or could current excitement about Garrett Lisi (the 21 July 2008 New Yorker piece) be artificially stimulating sales which would otherwise have been sagging? Smolin's book helps tell the story of several different approaches to quantum modeling spacetime which are interesting and may deserve support, besides dominant string. So, if Lisi's gambit can be taken as an example of an alternative approach unexpectedly coming to light, then it has a kind of resonance with Smolin's book.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2008
  8. Jul 21, 2008 #7
    Re: not dropping out of sight just yet

    This is bizzarre behavior indeed, though the explanation isn't too unexpected. The resonance idea could prove true in some respects. The idea that buyers of the latest alternative-approach type of work will rehash the previous iterations and, hence, boost sales of the previous works of interest isn't too hard to believe. So, your theory that Lisi's work coming to light is causing some "resonance" behavior with Smolin's is not necessarily out of the ball-park... After all, this effect has been seen in consumer markets of other types, such as with movies of like plot, books of like plot, and even my favorite, unlocked cell phones of similar variant. So there ya go!
     
  9. Jul 22, 2008 #8

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: not dropping out of sight just yet

    It was just a thought. Probably neither of us found it very convincing. Here is the latest:

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    19 July 1.1
    20 July 1.0
    21 July 0.7
    22 July 0.9

    ...
    1 September ??

    It could be that the thing is being artificially supported by the Lisi New Yorker business in which case we will see in a week or so---after the stir dies down our book's index will drop off. But it could also just hanging in around par of its own accord.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2008
  10. Jul 22, 2008 #9

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: not dropping out of sight just yet

    In case anyone is interested what the numbers are like these days, I just took an informal tally at 7PM (my usual time is noon) and Trouble salesrank was 4029. The top five stringy books were
    black hole war 579
    fabric 2587
    elegant 2889
    idiot guide 4304
    elegant hardbound 5612
    so the average was 3194.2 and the ratio was 3194.2/4029 = 0.8
     
  11. Jul 23, 2008 #10

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    registering a new low

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    23 July 0.4
    ...
    1 September ??

    today at noon
    black hole war 1034
    fabric 2425
    elegant 2694
    idiot's guide 4078
    elegant hardbound 6377
    average 3321.6
    Trouble's rank 7568, and ratio 3321.6/7568 = 0.4

    Earlier I was feeling pretty confident of winning on the September 1 forecast, but now it looks as if Mormonator has a palpable chance.
     
  12. Jul 25, 2008 #11

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: How will "Trouble" do in September?

    Trouble with Physics is getting blasted by the stringy competition. Again today at noon the ratio was 0.4. In case anyone wants to see the numbers for 24 July:

    trouble 9183

    compared with the benchmark average 4016.6 of the following top five
    black hole 1531
    elegant 3455
    parallel 3713
    fabric 4790
    idiot guide 6594
     
  13. Jul 26, 2008 #12

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    another new low---this may be the final plunge

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    23 July 0.4
    24 July 0.4
    ...
    26 July 0.3
    ...
    1 September ??

    today 26 July at noon pacific the ratio was 0.3
    To my knowledge, this is the lowest it has been in the approximately 2 years that Trouble has been on the market.
    It has done well. During the first year it was often times at the top of the physics bestseller list, or in the top three. Much of the time the ratio we've been watching has been 2 or 3 and better (twice or thrice the stringy topfive benchmark). But popular mass market books often do have an arc like this, where they get replaced by something else and drop out of sight. I think that is happening now.

    Well it came out in August 2006. Officially in September, but actually was in stock and shipping already in August. So it's had a good two year run and done way better than most people expected, I think.
    Mormonator's estimate may in fact be considerably too high, as it turns out---although still the closest on record.
     
  14. Jul 26, 2008 #13

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: How will "Trouble" do in September?

    I just bought a copy of Trouble along with Roger Penrose's Road to Reality, so maybe there will be a jump in the sales this July. :biggrin: I also bought Gell-Mann's The Quark and the Jaguar.
     
  15. Jul 27, 2008 #14

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: How will "Trouble" do in September?

    Delighted to hear it! The index was encouraged by the news and perked up some today.
    It was 0.6 (still under par but not so badly as a couple of days ago).

    Roger Penrose's book is packed with mentally challenging stuff that is so clearly explained that you feel you ought to understand it. Anybody who reads thru even half of that book deserves respect and admiration by my standards. Glad you intend to try it.

    I don't know The Quark and the Jaguar, it will be interesting to hear your impressions of all three books.
     
  16. Jul 30, 2008 #15

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: another new low---this may be the final plunge

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    ...
    30 July 0.5
    ...
    1 September ??

    Smolin book is taking a drubbing. Only doing half as well as the stringy topfive average that serves as our benchmark. Today 30 July at noon Trouble salesrank was 5455 compared with
    Black hole 111
    Parallel worlds 2300
    Elegant 3041
    Elegant hardbound 4043
    Fabric 5289
    making the benchmark average 2956.8 and the ratio 0.5

    One month to go before our forecasts' target date.
     
  17. Aug 1, 2008 #16

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: another new low---this may be the final plunge

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    1 August 0.4
    ...
    1 September ??

    One month to go before our forecasts' target date.
     
  18. Aug 2, 2008 #17

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Still showing signs of life.

    As of noon pacific on 2 August
    the Smolin book's salesrank was 2739
    and those of the five currently most popular stringy books were
    black hole 208
    elegant 2896
    fabric 2899
    parallel 4946
    idiot's guide 5131
    making the benchmark average 3216.0 and the ratio 1.2
    So "Trouble" was standing slightly better than par compared to benchmark.
     
  19. Aug 3, 2008 #18

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: Still showing signs of life.

    As of noon pacific on 3 August
    the Smolin book's salesrank was 2890
    and those of the five currently most popular stringy books were
    black hole 226
    elegant 1993
    fabric 2541
    parallel 2905
    idiot's guide 4083
    making the benchmark average 2349.6 and the ratio 0.8
    "Trouble" was standing slightly below par compared to benchmark.
     
  20. Aug 5, 2008 #19

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award
    Dearly Missed

    Re: another new low---this may be the final plunge

    Another brave soul has joined us! So we now have three different predictions for the salesrank of "Trouble" relative to benchmark, as of 1 September 2008. Welcome to Ed Aboud! Here is the record of the past year:


    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    1 August 0.4
    2 August 1.2
    3 August 0.8
    4 August 0.5
    5 August 1.2
    ...
    1 September ??


    On 5 August, shortly after noon pacific time, the Smolin book's salesrank was 2963
    and those of the five currently most popular stringy books were
    black hole 518
    fabric 3951
    elegant 4172
    parallel 4291
    idiot's guide 4945
    making the benchmark average 3575.4 and the ratio 1.2
    "Trouble" again slightly above par compared to benchmark.
     
  21. Aug 6, 2008 #20
    Re: another new low---this may be the final plunge

    I made sure to order the library a copy of "Trouble" off of Amazon before my departure. I hope I helped the salesrank... :biggrin:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: How will Trouble do in September?
  1. How do they do it? (Replies: 7)

  2. September Scholar (Replies: 5)

Loading...