Insights The Birth of a Textbook - Comments

Orodruin

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vanhees71

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Congratulations @Orodruin ! I think, I'll get a copy :-)).

One naughty question: Was the publishing process really so smooth? I heard from a colleague about publishing a textbook with another publisher that the production part was (or better said still is) awful. His carefully LaTeX-written book got totally cluttered in the process by putting it from LaTeX/pdf to some other format (I guess xml?). It's an experience I had to make with the one or other paper, including one, where they even distorted formulae, making everything completely unreadable and nonsensical. They really asked us to proof read it, although it was pretty obviously simply unreadable. It was a tedious process to get everything right again, and this was only for a paper of a few (perhaps 10) pages! If I think about such a thing concerning a long text book of around 700 pages, I get high blood pressure ;-)).
 
Very proud of you @Orodruin! I have a copy and it's very impressive. Everyone should go out and buy one!

btw, we will be holding 3 contests in the near future and the winner will be awarded a copy of the new book! Stay tuned for details!
 

Orodruin

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One naughty question: Was the publishing process really so smooth? I heard from a colleague about publishing a textbook with another publisher that the production part was (or better said still is) awful. His carefully LaTeX-written book got totally cluttered in the process by putting it from LaTeX/pdf to some other format (I guess xml?).
I honestly do not have anything bad to say about the publishing process itself. For me it all went very smoothly. Of course, my sample of publishers is limited here, but for me there was never any question with the publisher of using anything other than LaTeX and the template I was asked to use worked well and (to me) gave an aesthetically pleasing result. The few issues I had regarding the template were resolved within at most a few days by their LaTeX support (as well as some other minor technicalities I asked about). When did your colleague write his book? Things may have changed over time or simply vary among publishers.

I do agree that some journals are prone to massacring your paper (none mentioned, none forgotten, I do not submit papers there anymore after they edited a key sentence to mean the exact opposite).

Congratulations @Orodruin ! I think, I'll get a copy :-)).
Just as a heads-up to everyone, PF has been given a few copies to be used as promotional prizes in contests starting with next week's photo contest, which starts tomorrow. However, depending on shipping costs, the contest may have to be restricted to US addresses for receiving the prize. Greg is investigating.

I have a copy
I am very jealous. My author copies did not arrive yet (and are being shipped to my work address and I am out for x-mas). I will have to take your word for the impressiveness. :rolleyes:
 

ZapperZ

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All I want to know is how much epidural that you took to give birth to this book.

Zz.
 

TSny

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Congratulations, @Orodruin ! Thanks for sharing your experience.
 

ohwilleke

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Congratulations!

I took this class (which was called "Applied Analysis" at the time) when I was in college (back in the early days of Grunge) and our textbook was really unsatisfactory (although the typesetting and binding were beautiful and there were very few typos compared to some of the other advanced math texts I've worked with - there are fewer editions and fewer readers than more introductory works so errors don't get caught as often in the more advanced math textbooks, especially in the problem sets - I'll look it up and update from home if I get a chance). At the time, I depended almost entirely on lecture notes which were much more clear. I've gone back to it several times when dealing with math I was supposed to have mastered then and been disappointed every time at the lack of clear presentation of the topics, like tensors, that I was referring back to and eventually bought another text for reference purposes for some of the subjects.

This said, the advances in the computerized typesetting process over the last few decades has been amazing. As late as the 1980s, a large share of masters theses and PhD dissertations and conference papers had the equations written in by hand, and if you go back to the 1970s and earlier that was true even in a lot of published journal articles (also with typewriter written text in courier font showing whiteout marks, no justification, etc.). It was still very painstaking in the 1990s to get it done right each symbol took a dozen or two key strokes.

This week, my son in advanced high school math had to write a short (six page) paper explaining an issue in advance math or statistics for his high school IB class, and he was effortlessly pounding out something that looked as professional as anything you'd see on arXiv from a type setting perspective! (I've finally gotten to the point where he's advanced enough in math that I can do more good than harm helping him with his homework again.)
 
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Orodruin

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Congratulations @Orodruin ! I might get a copy :-)). If I do though, how do I obtain a solution manual?
I think the idea of the publisher is to offer the solutions manual to teachers who adopt the course.
CRC Press homepage said:
A solutions manual and figure slides are available upon qualifying course adoption
 

davenn

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Congratulations @Orodruin

an awesome achievement !


Dave
 
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I think the idea of the publisher is to offer the solutions manual to teachers who adopt the course.
I am an enthusiast - neither a teacher, nor a student. A solution manual would be very useful for self-learners like me.
 

Orodruin

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I am an enthusiast - neither a teacher, nor a student. A solution manual would be very useful for self-learners like me.
To be honest, I do not have much control over how the publisher handles the solutions manual. Contractually, you might be surprised at what the author does not really control such as the title and the cover. However, I must say that they always listened to my opinion with regards to those decisions (for example, I was asked about the cover art and they readily accepted my idea).

If I had to make a guess as to why they want to keep the solutions manual to the teachers it would be because it is mainly teachers that decide to adopt a textbook for their course, not students, and so it makes economic sense as some teachers will want to keep solutions from their students in order for them to try harder and/or use the problems as homework exercises. (Note that, based on the reviews I got, the teacher corps is strongly divided on this issue ...)

If only there existed an online forum where students and laymen could go to post their questions and doubts regarding the solutions to different physics problems and get help for free ... No, that would be too good to be true! :rolleyes:
 

blue_leaf77

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Thanks for the sharing of this rarely shared experience Orodruin. Since my undergrad times I always wondered how much time and effort textbook authors had dedicated to finish the textbook, whether they are bound by deadlines from the publisher, and so on. How the typos and more technical mistakes (i.e. reviewing) are handled are also interesting to know. You know, even a university prof often (or may be always) has one or two things about physical concepts that he does not completely understood or has completely forgotten due to rare use of the concepts in his research. And then writing a basic level book covering many topics in physics such as this, surely this requires the author to be well acquainted with a broad spectrum of topics, not just those around his specialty research. Now I am glad part of my curiosity is answered.
 
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Congratulations @Orodruin.

Your account of the process reminds me of Tracy Kidder's book Soul of a New Machine, which won a Pulitzer prize. Except that yours was mostly a solo project, rather than a team project.

Most of all, I'm impressed by your perseverance and energy to see it through. It sounds like an awful lot of work to me. ZZ's comment about epidural was spot on.

I know many people who do modeling of physical processes. I used to do that myself. Most of them would really appreciate knowledge of better mathematical tools that might make their job easier.
 
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Way to go! While offspring and the vegetation which supports them are obviously more important, books are a close third as far as priorities go. Definitely jealous that you have the means and the ambition to make it happen! I may just have to enter the next contest for a chance to win a copy... since priorities won't allow me the privilege to splurge, lol.
 

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