Why do people write new text books?

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  • #26
radou
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I think if your going to write a book and only repeat what other people have already done, you have no business writing books.

Dont believe me, open a book by Hibbeler and then get Beer-Johnston. They are the same book. How is that not plagiarism?

The whole point of writing (such) a book is to have your name on a cover and have it sold. That's basically the answer to your question.

If I have to run to another book to understand whats going on, there is a *problem* with the book Im reading. The point of a book is to get a point across. If the author cant do that, trouble.

Now, that's a relative point. Someone else would perhaps understand what's going on where you wouldn't, and vice versa.
 
  • #27
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The whole point of writing (such) a book is to have your name on a cover and have it sold. That's basically the answer to your question.

No! This is not supposed to be a 'best seller'. The point, the only point of a good textbook should be to convey the material to the reader in a clear and logical way.

If you are writing a book to put your name on it, they should ban your book from the library. This is exactly the redundancy im talking about. That paper could be made into toilet rolls and have a use.

Now, that's a relative point. Someone else would perhaps understand what's going on where you wouldn't, and vice versa.

Not really. If you know how to write and explain your ideas with words, anyone should be able to follow what you're talking about. If someone else does not understand (and they are paying strict attention) the book is fundamentally bad.
 
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  • #28
radou
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If you are writing a book to put your name on it, they should ban your book from the library. This is exactly the redundancy im talking about. That paper could be made into toilet rolls and have a use.

I agree, but I believe a lot of people do write books for that very reason. Take any 'good' book as an example, and let it be an older one. There are, for sure, many newer books on the subject, and, as you said, merely copies of each other. So, the logical question is: why do authors write such books? Are they aware of the fact that their books are almost the same? Of course they are. But their job is to write. And all of them think they're smarter than the other ones. So, they write a book. And that's it.

Not really. If you know how to write and explain your ideas with words, anyone should be able to follow what you're talking about. If someone else does not understand (and they are paying strict attention) the book is fundamentally bad.

Well, actually, after thinking it through, I could agree, but still, this is pretty much of an idealistic viewpoint, isn't it? I mean, I never came across a book that I completely understood the first time I read it, neither do I know someone who did. Perhaps I'm a retard (as the people I know)? :tongue2: I doubt it, so it's the books fault. Conclusion: there are no ideal books.
 
  • #29
Moonbear
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Not really. If you know how to write and explain your ideas with words, anyone should be able to follow what you're talking about. If someone else does not understand (and they are paying strict attention) the book is fundamentally bad.

Then maybe you should write your own textbook the way you think it should be done. :tongue: I think each textbook writer DOES think that's what they are doing, just people have different learning styles, so what is logical to one is clear as mud to another.
 
  • #30
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Then maybe you should write your own textbook the way you think it should be done. :tongue: I think each textbook writer DOES think that's what they are doing, just people have different learning styles, so what is logical to one is clear as mud to another.

:rofl: Pay attention! The point is to improve the books already out there! :rofl: :tongue2:

We dont need another book on whats been done a thousand times!
 
  • #31
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There are some cases where writing a new textbook in an old area can be really interesting.

I know a prof who is currently writing a book an Galois theory, which is a very old topic, but from a point of view of category theory, and adjoint functors.
 
  • #32
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I'll flesh out my answer to this question since it seems to have been ignored: It's all about money. If there's only one group making a textbook for a particular topic, and there are many buyers, it will be attractive to enter the market with a competing textbook. This will continue to happen until it is not profitable. That is why there are maybe two dozen basic physics textbooks; there's enough buyers to support parallel publication.
 
  • #33
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I really think if someone wants to write a textbook there should be sufficient justification to show why its any different from whats already been done.

When books have errors that go unfixed all the way up until the 4th edition, its time to flush out all the crapy books.

There really is no excuse for errors that far into publication.


(That is, unless you are shifting the chapters around so you can sell the "next" edition at higher prices without really "doing" anything to the book. If they just left the damn book alone things wouldnt get messed up.)
 
  • #34
Moonbear
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I really think if someone wants to write a textbook there should be sufficient justification to show why its any different from whats already been done.
That's nice and idealistic, but not how the world of capitalism works. Book publishers want to make money just like everyone else does.

When books have errors that go unfixed all the way up until the 4th edition, its time to flush out all the crapy books.
Have you compared it to an older edition? Were the errors in those editions too, or were they introduced when new material was added? If the errors are in the new sections, you can always write to the authors/editors and inform them of the errors so they can be corrected in the next edition. I've done that when I've run across really bad errors.

It's also a heck of a lot of work to write a textbook, and I think there are plenty of authors who do it once and decide they never want to do it again, or they finally retire, so don't bother with updating new editions. Nobody else is able to take their work and call it their own to update it if the original writers have no interest in bothering with newer editions, so then someone who is dissatisfied with older texts gets to start from scratch to write a new one. Money is a motivation, but so is desiring a text that fits the class that person is currently teaching when they can't find any that really works for what they want to do.
 
  • #35
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I would much rather have the current libertarian approach to textbook selection than some Mother-may-I group that selects the reference text for some subject. I live in a bible-thumper state. The state school board is constantly under pressure to select texts that issue caveats regarding religion versus biology, geology, astronomy ...

Even though classical physics is 200 years old, the way it is expressed and the way in which it is taught are not. I cringe at the thought of having to express physical concepts without resorting to modern mathematical and physical notation. How in the world did they do physics without the concept of vectors?
 
  • #36
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I would much rather have the current libertarian approach to textbook selection than some Mother-may-I group that selects the reference text for some subject. I live in a bible-thumper state. The state school board is constantly under pressure to select texts that issue caveats regarding religion versus biology, geology, astronomy ...

Yet, this has nothing to do with what im talking about.

Even though classical physics is 200 years old, the way it is expressed and the way in which it is taught are not. I cringe at the thought of having to express physical concepts without resorting to modern mathematical and physical notation. How in the world did they do physics without the concept of vectors?

What do you mean "modern"? This notation has been used almost since what, at least the 1800s?

By now, there should be at least one book that is generally accepted as "The book" on physics at different levels.

That's nice and idealistic, but not how the world of capitalism works. Book publishers want to make money just like everyone else does.

How would they lose money? They still have to sell x number of books to every student around the country. Who writes it makes no difference. A sold book is a sold book.
 
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  • #37
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:rofl: I just remembered what Clausius said a while ago:

And I have to say also that maybe the book is wrong also (I cannot judge that because I didn't understand the business of the tarp), in part because nowadays there are so many awful books of general fluid mechanics in the market that even the trash guy has written one.
 
  • #38
Moonbear
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By now, there should be at least one book that is generally accepted as "The book" on physics at different levels.
Why? Out of all the possible content that can be included, there will always be varied opinions on what is sufficient. You can't put it ALL in, so people will differ in opinions on what should be left out or included or what depth is adequate.


How would they lose money? They still have to sell x number of books to every student around the country. Who writes it makes no difference. A sold book is a sold book.

:confused: You are aware there are far more than one textbook publishing company, right? And that the authors get royalties, right?
 
  • #39
Pyrrhus
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Cyrus, It is an interesting question. There's one problem, the union of procedures and ideas for certain topics are not that easy. For example, engineering considerations in design of structures of reinforced concrete in Latin America is different than in North America, plus they are different from country to country inside of them, too!. How in the world can one book have all the proper information? Maybe such topics are not that easy (even though the ideas behind the design in the core are the same or should be).

You mentioned basic sciences such as physics. It is interesting... In fact, classical physics require have a lot of depth!. How can one book be deep enough for the experienced learner and shallow enough for the novice?. At least that's the idea of going from intro physics (Resnick) to Classical Mechanics (Landau or Goldstein).

I may be wrong!, perhaps you meant the same book for each of those classes, rather than such an atrocious idea i just mentioned above. I don't know for introductory physics i had 3 books (Serway, Resnick and Young). I read each chapter how was presented on each book, and i believe i have a good enough understanding of what is going on.

Frankly, for many of the subjects i've taken at college, i've had more than one book (photocopies, library, my property or my dad's), except for Mechanics of Material. It has come to the point where i always consult as many books as i have on a certain topic. I like it this way. Well anyway, i got a midterm tomorrow on Labor Code applied to construction, and i need to wake up early to review, but i'll be back :cool: .
 
  • #40
radou
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I'll sum it up: we live in a world of millions of choices, which are being bombarded onto us constantly from every side. Start in a supermarket, end up with textbooks.
 
  • #41
BobG
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I'll sum it up: we live in a world of millions of choices, which are being bombarded onto us constantly from every side. Start in a supermarket, end up with textbooks.

Books in stores are even more expensive than text books sometimes. Just check out this book that you can order on-line from Target:

http://www.target.com/gp/detail.htm...1/601-2035815-0378513?ie=UTF8&asin=0497328607

187 pages in a convenient paperback binding chock full of knowledge on specialized automobile accessories for only $795.00.
 
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  • #42
turbo
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How would they lose money? They still have to sell x number of books to every student around the country. Who writes it makes no difference. A sold book is a sold book.
But a sold book that the student can resell to one of next year's students makes them no money past the initial sale until the text is replaced. What really used to frost me was professors in lab courses changing books, so that your texts, lab books, study aids, etc were all worthless to the next class of students and you couldn't sell them privately. Trudge back to the book exchange and get maybe 10 cents on the dollar for all those expensive books IF they are in great condition. :grumpy:
 
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  • #43
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the content of a good physics book is the same for nearly 200 years now.
One of the things that a working theoretical physicist does is find simpler approaches to problems that have already been solved using more difficult methods. For this reason, material which was once only taught to graduate students is now taught to undergraduates, etc. The content changes because the techniques improve.
 
  • #44
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I can have 'two' good books, for example on the same material. One might explain something one way, the other book a different approach.
In my case, I consult Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" in order to understand the material, and Shankar's book of the same name for exercises.
 
  • #45
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Or in my case I read a mathematical book on relativity because all the books in the course & most the physics library couldn't care less about rigor. I completely understand why they emphasize the physics & all, but I need more structure.

See there's no reason to stop at 2.
 
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  • #46
I don't know,

My last year of undergrad, I stopped buying textbooks, and would just pick up older versions or with the same subject at the library for free. Sometimes the text I used was from to 60's o_O
 
  • #47
radou
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