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The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 3, 2008 22:07 UTC (Wed) by pr1268 (subscriber, #24648)
In reply to: The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals by BrucePerens
Parent article: The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

It's really hard to make money from books like this. A lot of effort gets put into them, and then you're lucky if they sell 5000 copies, because only a very rarefied audience is interested in them. And these days, people are much more likely to get the information they want from the web.

Which is a shame, really. It's interesting to see how both the quality and availability of information increased substantially after the printing press was invented, but now with the Internet it seems that the quality is decreasing even though the availability continues to increase.

Thanks to Valerie for her contribution. Articles like hers make my subscription to LWN all the more worthwhile.


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The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 3, 2008 23:54 UTC (Wed) by mattdm (subscriber, #18) [Link]

Which is a shame, really. It's interesting to see how both the quality and availability of information increased substantially after the printing press was invented, but now with the Internet it seems that the quality is decreasing even though the availability continues to increase.

I'm certain the exact same comment was made around 1450 or so about the printing press vs. hand-lettered books. I think actually the 90%-of-everything rule still applies, just has it always has. It's just a lot easier for you to see more of it, and if you take a certain attitude it's easy to let the junk occlude the good stuff.

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 4, 2008 1:32 UTC (Thu) by pr1268 (subscriber, #24648) [Link]

Good point. I was going on pure intuition when I mentioned that the quality of articles increased after the printing press was invented--my intuitive thought was that errors in hand-scribed articles likely decreased. But then again, with the rapid proliferation of printing press-published books, those few errors that made it through propagated rapidly and extensively. Not unlike the Internet of today....

And thanks to JoeBuck's comment below. I agree that those who publish quality content online aren't doing so for the $$$ (or €, ¥, £, or whatever). :)

90%

Posted Sep 4, 2008 3:03 UTC (Thu) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

The 90%-of-everything-is-crap rule is known as Sturgeon's Law.

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 4, 2008 0:24 UTC (Thu) by JoeBuck (subscriber, #2330) [Link]

These kinds of works are usually written to make reputations rather than to make money; having written the definitive work on some subject can certainly help with getting hired, or getting tenure.

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 4, 2008 4:24 UTC (Thu) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510) [Link]

Yes. But what you see, sometimes, because of that is that the book is not revised because the goal of tenure, etc., has been reached and the author isn't motivated to make the investment. And some folks don't get the intangible rewards they wanted from being an author (not that tenure is really intangible).

Of the various books in my series, I think only the Samba one got done in Samba's source code repository, and that one is probably the one that has most continued to live. If I do a series again, I'll make sure that all books have online source code repositories. Prentice has not done a good job of making the source available for my first 24 titles. But even with the Samba book it was hard to get the publisher to do a second edition, because there were lots of books that would come back from stores.

I can think of another book on Unix that had high expectations but turned out to be pretty much a flop for its author. I'd better not say which one, it'll start a fight.

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 8, 2008 14:41 UTC (Mon) by branden (subscriber, #7029) [Link]

Why not give a shot, Bruce? Don't muzzle the discussion--your thoughts might trigger the author to barrel into this forum and take stock of his publishing endeavors, rather than getting his breeches in a bunch; he might have been keeping his powder dry for the past few years, and now has some high-caliber insights to volley.

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 8, 2008 20:05 UTC (Mon) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510) [Link]

If you knew who I was talking about you'd not say that :-)

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 8, 2008 20:09 UTC (Mon) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

I get the sense the poster knew exactly who you were talking about...

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 8, 2008 20:12 UTC (Mon) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510) [Link]

Oops. I read right over the double-entendres.

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 9, 2008 21:03 UTC (Tue) by branden (subscriber, #7029) [Link]

Bruce,

I must be getting subtle in my old age...

Perish the thought!

The Kernel Hacker's Bookshelf: UNIX Internals

Posted Sep 4, 2008 0:58 UTC (Thu) by quotemstr (subscriber, #45331) [Link]

Sometimes, what's available online is excellent. Consider Ulrich Drepper's series on memory serialized here at LWN:

http://lwn.net/Articles/250967/


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