Archive for February, 2009

4. Libraries and Publish on Demand

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

The basic idea here is that Lulu (and CreateSpace) makes it feasible for even the smallest public libraries to either publish books (community histories, etc.) that might only reach a few dozen people, to provide publication assistance for patrons to prepare books that might literally never sell a copy except to the author (genealogy is the immediate and obvious case, but there are others). And to do so with little or no monetary investment, including no upfront investment for the books themselves.


  • Full-fledged lesson plan/speaking notes, ideally in two forms (one-hour in person/online, three-hour in-person?)
  • Word2007 template for 6×9 book, with sample .docx using that template and explaining elements
  • Ideally, a Mac-friendly version and/or a Word2003 version
  • Even more ideally, an OpenOffice version (if that’s feasible–if OO has the chops for this)
  • A PoD book setting forth the whole scenario and serving as an example, very high priced on its own with a substantial discount for workshop attendees (or bulk purchases)
  • Does this need a color book as well?

Book coverage:

  • Describing each element of the template
  • A typography overview, with notes on changing the template and lots of examples
  • A page and book layout overview, with notes on elements (and chapter changes)
  • Notes on copyfitting and typographic elegance
  • Notes on photos and charts, and the Excel trick
  • Notes on front matter and back matter
  • PDF issues
  • Notes on cover alternatives
  • Quick notes on alternative tools
  • When does the PoD option make sense?
  • Maybe notes on pricing, etc.–and the difference between PoD and vanity publishing.
  • Possibly other elements below

Workshop coverage:

Part 1: 30-45 minutes?

  • Possible uses [expand on this!]
  • Thinking about production options
  • What you don’t get with Lulu et al (copy editing, layout help, marketing, promotion)
  • What to do about those missing elements
  • Example pricing & release scenarios
  • The toolkit–basics and extensions
  • The nature of the template(s)

Part 2: 60-90 minutes?

  • Thinking about a book project
  • Working with the templates
  • Step-by-step through the elements of a book
  • Content and organization
  • Refinement levels
  • When is 6×9 wrong? When do you need color?
  • The hazards of dense photo management in Word2007
  • Details and trickery: Copyfitting etc.

Part 3: 45-60 minutes

  • Putting it all together
  • Cover refinement for wraparound covers
  • Checking the test copy
  • Thinking about sales & promotion
  • Discussion and other issues

What else? Is this a reasonable workshop?


On one hand, I bring a fair amount of value to this one, given amateur typographic and layout experience (good enough that I produced the camera-ready copy for two ALA Editions books and several earlier G.K. Hall/Knowledge Industry books), my own experiences with Lulu, my copyfitting experience with C&I. There should be thousands of libraries that could use the information.

On the other–I did a LITA regional workshop on desktop publishing in 1994 (I still have a copy of the workbook, including a magnificently and deliberately atrocious “do what I say” chapter). It seemed promising at the time. It happened twice, and was pretty much a disaster (partly because I wasn’t a great workshop presenter, mostly because very few people ever signed up).

Quick evaluation

  • Medium-scale effort (all new material), except that adding Macintosh and OpenOffice templates might be difficult.
  • Medium value added: Experience with PoD, some layout/typographic experience, some copyfitting experience.
  • Upfront: No money as such, but book preparation
  • Value to the field: Potentially high
  • Monetary rewards: Unclear, and might involve travel
  • Personal rewards: Moderate–I’d like to see more libraries doing this.


In the interests of a silly but amusing experiment, I am obliged to note that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Kindle 2, Amazon, text-to-speech, 23 things or Authors Guild. It also has no specific references to Kansas or Nebraska.

How did I get all four of these up so rapidly? I remembered Word2007’s “new post” feature. Since I already had the four discussions in a Word document, it was just a matter of cut, copy and post…

3. The Liblog Landscape Revisited

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Note: This could potentially be done in 2010, skipping 2009 or doing two year metrics in one.

A replacement for The Liblog Landscape that would add new value in several ways:

  • Begin with a chapter or two on good practices and the range of blogs.
  • Take 475 blogs (or maybe only 373 of them) as a baseline, with quick notes on those left behind.
  • Add new blogs from 2008 (and from 2009, if done), with tougher criteria: At least three posts during each year’s quarter, at least GPR3.
  • Similar metrics (omitting illustrations metrics) but covering more time.
  • More focus on groups of blogs.
  • Similar backend, but maybe with subjective notes on some blogs?
  • Maybe—maybe—survey for internal measures and comments, but that adds a lot of extra work.
  • Notes

    While The Liblog Landscape isn’t exactly setting the PoD world on fire, it’s still selling—six or seven copies in February, which means it’s now passed Academic Library Blogs in sales.

    On the other hand, at the rate it’s selling, it will never reach 100 copies, much less the 200 copies that would constitute reasonable success. This might also be a project that requires sponsorship to work. I believe the material would have readership in the high hundreds or, more probably, low thousands (the lead essay in the February C&I, on blogging, is getting a lot of downloads)—but it’s not clear that more than a handful of people (or libraries or library schools) will pay for it. (I haven’t yet sent out review copies; if I do, it’s unlikely any reviews—with one possible exception—would appear before June or July. If any appear at all: First Have Something to Say went essentially unreviewed despite a slew of review copies and a major library publisher.)

    Quick evaluation

  • Level of effort: Fairly high to very high.
  • Value added: Existing database and sheer persistence.
  • Upfront risk: Mostly time (but I think I’d need review copies)
  • Value to the field: Relatively low, apparently.
  • Monetary rewards: Relatively low, apparently.
  • Personal rewards: Fun to do—maybe the most fun to do of this group—but discouraging if it doesn’t pop. (If it’s not reaching people, why bother?)
  • Comments?

    In the interests of a silly but amusing experiment, I am obliged to note that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Kindle 2, Amazon, text-to-speech, 23 things or Authors Guild. It also has no specific references to Kansas or Nebraska.

    1. Balanced Libraries, Second Edition

    Saturday, February 28th, 2009

    A new edition that:

  • Incorporates Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” as one section, with indexing
  • Rewrites what’s there to remove redundancy and to update
  • Brings the discussion up to date.
  • Notes

    Balanced Libraries continues to sell, albeit slowly (three copies in February, 272 total to date). While the C&I special issue is history, albeit recent history, it continues to be downloaded/viewed at a brisk rate (>1,000 so far this year, >39,000 to date)—indeed. Would a book version have any legs at all?

    Quick evaluation

  • Relatively low effort—2/3 existing text, so mostly lots of layout, indexing and updating.
  • Value-added: Existing text and “independent” status
  • Upfront risk: None.
  • Value to the field: Relatively low, unless LIS schools bite—”the argument’s died down” although L2&L2 continues to be downloaded frequently.
  • Monetary rewards: Nothing to moderate, depending on response
  • Personal rewards: Relatively low.
  • Comments? Reactions?

    One previous comment already noted as, essentially, a no vote.

    In the interests of a silly but amusing experiment, I am obliged to note that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Kindle 2, Amazon, text-to-speech, 23 things or Authors Guild. It also has no specific references to Kansas or Nebraska.

    2. Blogging for Libraries

    Saturday, February 28th, 2009

    A single book that would:

  • Replace Public Library Blogs and Academic Library Blogs
  • Begin with a chapter or two on good practices and minimalist planning for library blogs biased toward success.
  • Focus on the 176 (or 110?) “active” academic blogs and 185 (or 129?) “active” public blogs, for a total of 361 or 239 blogs in total
  • Survey as many bloggers in that group as possible, to try to find out (a) apparent subscription and use levels (to be used anonymously), (b) “success stories,” (d) comments.
  • Bring the stats up to date (either doing 2008 and 2009, or just jumping from 2007 to 2009) and add “internal stats” as available, also using richer metrics.
  • Try to establish typologies of successful blogs
  • Use half-page profiles of all of these as success stories.
  • Notes

    There’s a trickle of sales for the two books (two of one, one of the other in February; still short of 80 copies for Public Library Blogs and 50 for Academic Library Blogs altogether).

    While the new book would be much richer, that might not translate into reasonable sales—this really may be one that can only be done with sponsorship.

    Quick evaluation

  • Level of effort: High, involving email, survey, handling return, and metrics for 239 to 361 blogs.
  • Value added: Existing database and sheer persistence.
  • Upfront risk: Only time—but doing the survey would pretty much oblige me to do the work.
  • Value to the field: Likely to be higher than for the current two books, but may not be perceived as high enough.
  • Personal rewards: Fairly low, frankly. I have this pessimistic sense that people aren’t really interested in knowing how library blogs are actually doing and would rather hear about how wonderfully they should be doing.
  • Comments?

    In the interests of a silly but amusing experiment, I am obliged to note that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Kindle 2, Amazon, text-to-speech, 23 things or Authors Guild. It also has no specific references to Kansas or Nebraska.

    Five alternatives: Seeking group wisdom, advice

    Saturday, February 28th, 2009

    I’m going to post four posts this weekend (if time allows), describing four possible research/writing projects. I think I could do one of these (or one per year) while still doing my best with PLN, C&I, “disContent,” “Crawford at Large” (in ONLINE), and leaving enough spare time to enjoy life…

    But I’m really up in the air as to which one.

    For each one, I have an informal score matrix, not very well filled out. I’m hoping that your feedback and superior wisdom (the hive mind? riggghht…) will help me make decisions.

    The matrix:

    • Level of effort (although all are in the 100 to 500 hour range, I think)
    • Value added (what I more-or-less uniquely bring to the project)
    • Upfront risk (money needed to bring the project to fruition)
    • Value to the field (how much it’s likely to be worth to the library field as a whole)
    • Monetary returns (how much, in filthy lucre, I’m likely to earn from it–including indirect earnings, e.g. particularly interesting speeches)
    • Personal returns (how much I’d enjoy doing it).

    Obviously none of you can speak to that last…

    Each post will provide more details on one possibility; feedback is invited as comments on any post, comments here, email back to me, FriendFeed comments…

    Here’s the list, in alphabetic order for want of any better:

    1. Balanced Libraries, Second Edition (incorporating Library 2.0 & “Library 2.0”)
    2. Blogging for Libraries – A replacement for Public Library Blogs and Academic Library Blogs but done in a very different way.
    3. The Liblog Landscape Revisited – Some differences in approach, but largely an one- or two-year update.
    4. Library as short-run publisher – A workshop and book on no-cost print-on-demand publishing for public (and academic) libraries, for their own purposes and to aid patrons (e.g., genealogists and others).

    The fifth choice, of course, is “None of the above”–treat semi-retirement more seriously.

    Once I’ve written the other posts, I’ll loop back and add links to the four items above.Done.

    In the interests of a silly but amusing experiment, I am obliged to note that this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Kindle 2, Amazon, text-to-speech, 23 things or Authors Guild. It also has no specific references to Kansas or Nebraska.

    Financial experts all agree…

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

    …and it’s driving me a little nuts.

    You know what they all agree on. “You gotta be in stocks if you want to have retirement money.”

    Even now. In every finance magazine. “You gotta be in stocks… In the long run, that’s the place to be.”

    With that little tiny “Past performance does not assure future performance” footnote that they don’t want you to hear.

    And I find myself saying “In the long run, we’re dead.”

    [There’s a good question for any of the Big Name Personal Finance Experts spouting this standard advice: What percentage of your savings/investments are in stocks? In one hotshot’s case, the answer is apparently 3%. Which is really telling…]

    A little thought experiment

    Let’s say that, in 1997, you had $100,000 to invest toward retirement. Let’s say you were 45.

    You could put it in CDs or something like TIAA. Let’s say that, over the years, you could average 5% APY (finding the right CDs–with TIAA, you’d be doing better than that).

    Or you could put it in stocks–let’s say something like an S&P500 index fund.

    Where are you now? Unless I’m misunderstanding something, if you made the stupid, dumb, shortsighted, only a fool would… choice, you’d have about $180,000 (at the end of 2009, at least).

    Where if you’d made the Only Good Choice, you’d have…$100,000.

    Ah, but In The Long Run Stocks Always Win.

    So let’s project that out from now, assuming (and wouldn’t it be a lovely assumption!) that they’re not going any lower.

    Here are the points at which the mutual fund Smart Guy would finally pass the CD-holding Dumb Guy (assuming essentially 0% management costs):

    If the market averages 8% per year: 2031.
    If the market averages 9% per year: 2025.

    Now if you’re a True Believer and bet that we’re never, ever going to have any economic problems after, oh, next week, you might go for higher average yields.

    If the market averages 10% per year: 2022
    If the market averages 11% per year: 2020.

    Realistically, for these two people who were 45 in 1997 and counting on using that retirement income starting in 2017…well, at that point, the Dumb Guy’s still looking pretty good.

    And if it’s 2011 before the market is as high as it was in 1997?

    Then…well, then: 8% yields 2036 as a crossover point–27 years from now!
    9% gets us to 2030, at which point our mythical 45-year-old is a mere 78 years old.

    Even 10% doesn’t yield crossover until 2026.

    Maybe they’re all right about the long run…

    But it does make me wonder.


    • I am not a financial planning advisor of any sort.
    • This is not advice. Period.
    • I could be entirely wrong. I could be missing huge, major factors.
    • All this is is a grumpy little thought experiment…

    Update, February 25: As John Mark Ockerbloom points out in the first comment, this thought experiment oversimplifies, at least for mutual funds covering the broad marketplace. It fails to take into account dividends (for those stocks that have them) and management fees. Ah well, it was mostly a grumpy little thought experiment.

    Uncontrolled Vocabulary: Another one down (at least for now)

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

    Greg Schwartz just announced that Uncontrolled Vocabulary, the “weekly live interactive roundtable discussion of all things library,” is on hiatus. The eloquent post offers reasons why (a matter of family priorities) and how difficult it is to take the step.

    It’s not a decision I make lightly and it in no way reflects my enthusiasm for what we do here. I love producing this program. I love the conversations. I love the people who’ve joined me on this journey. I know some of them will be genuinely disappointed. For this, I am sorry.

    …Please understand that the problem for me is not so much the hosting of the show, which is only an hour of my time per week. It’s the never-ending involvement: the slave-like attention to my feed reader, the setting up of blog posts, the reading and re-reading of proposed conversation starters. All worthwhile activites that I enjoy, but that require a certain constant level of engagement which forces me to make compromises with the rest of my priorities. I’m making a conscious decision to not make those compromises anymore.

    So far, it’s only on hiatus–but a “permanent vacation” is a possibility.

    Great work (from everything I’ve heard)

    True confession: I’ve never participated in a UV episode (there have been 71 to date)–and I’ve only listened to one of them all the way through.

    That’s my loss. I’m just not a podcast person–even less so now that my daily commute is from the dining room to my office, maybe 25 feet. (But even when I was working, it was only a 10-15 minute commute–and I think I’d find something like UV too distracting for that commute.) Since I wasn’t a listener, it never made much sense to be a participant (and I tend not to do any professional stuff after dinner).

    But I’ve heard enough, from people I trust, to know that UV was great stuff–lively, interesting, informative, with a diverse range of perspectives. The one episode I did listen to made me want more, just not enough to find the time for it.

    The profession definitely owes Greg thanks for what he’s done to date–and, to be sure, for the earlier Carnival of the Infosciences.

    This stuff is hard (and not always very rewarding)

    There have been a number of unique, passion-driven experiments in non-institutional, freely available  “periodical media” serving the library field–making a distinction between things that appear on a fairly regular basis and the hundreds of blogs and other wholly irregular sources. (If you think I’m putting down liblogs, you really don’t read my stuff much: I’m making a distinction, not a value judgment.)

    A few examples (excluding peer-reviewed OA journals) and what’s become of them:

    • ExLibris, Marylaine Block’s weekly essay, which lasted more than 300 editions. It eventually became less-than-weekly. Block gave up on it in 2008, but continues to maintain the archive.
    • NewBreed Librarian, “a publication and web site intended to foster a sense of community for those new to librarianship, whether in school or just out.” The bimonthly “webzine,” heavy on graphic design, began in February 2001–and ended in August 2002.
    • Library Juice “was an irregular, weekly, then biweekly, then, for a moment, monthly electronic zine for librarians, library and information science students, and other interested people, published between January, 1998 and August, 2005.” Rory Litwin, who produced the zine throughout its eight-year life, resurrected the name as a blog, a book and a book publishing company. I’m not aware of any archive of the many zine issues.
    • Carnival of the Infosciences, while technically a series of blog posts, falls into this category, with the interesting twist that it had many direct hosts during its 90-issue life (August 2005 to May 2008). While the link here yields pointers to the first 57 editions, the wiki hasn’t been kept up to date; you’ll have to search a little to get the remaining 33 editions. Update: Schwartz notes that links to the latter half of the Carnivals are here; I just missed them.
    • Free Open Scholarship Newsletter, a monthly launched by Peter Suber in March 2001 to support “free online scholarship,” is a survivor–in part because SPARC took it over, sponsors it (Peter Suber is now a senior researcher at SPARC, among other things) and renamed it SPARC Open Access Newsletter in July 2003.
    • Current Cites, a team effort providing “8-12 annotated citations” of current library literature each month, is also a survivor and by far the longest-lived of any of these efforts, since it began in August 1990.
    • Added 2/25:, “Law and technology resources for legal professionals” (most definitely including law librarians) is a monthly collection of articles and columns (in a way, it’s an overlay journal) that Sabrina I. Pacifici has been doing since 1997. It has advertising and is a strong survivor. As noted on the “About” page, “LLRX is now in its 12th year of continuous publication, as a solo, independent enterprise.”
    • Cites & Insights, my own experiment in this field, began in December 2000 and has appeared at least monthly ever since. I no longer consider it an experiment. It does have modest sponsorship. And, frankly, if I was still fully employed and had a better sense of balance, free time and priorities…well, I’m not sure C&I would be around.

    And now another one’s gone, at least temporarily. I didn’t use “unique” in the phrase “unique, passion-driven experiments” because I’m a sloppy writer–I used it because it’s true. Each of these (and probably others I’ve forgotten or somehow missed) has had its own strengths, weaknesses and approach. Each has served the library field well (in my opinion).

    And most have, I suspect, been underappreciated and under-rewarded relative to the direct work and indirect effort that’s gone into them. As gray literature (and I’ll include podcasts as literature), they’re mostly ignored by indexing services and other “official” resources. Nobody got rich from advertising on any of these. In most cases, I think the creators have needed a little craziness to keep things going.

    So, Greg, you’ve done good work–and made what’s undoubtedly the right decision. Hope things work out.

    Dollhouse, checkpoints and sales

    Saturday, February 21st, 2009

    How do these all relate? Only in that none of them deserves a full post, I’m not inspired to start the next C&I essay just yet (or my next print-magazine column), I’m really not inspired to flesh out the PoD workshop proposal…so it’s another random musings post.

    UPDATE: Portion of post, and two comments, removed; I don’t need the hassle.


    Didn’t do it for us. [Remainder of commentary removed. Life is too short.]


    Since I don’t do video editing (or download videos) and not a whole lot of photo work anyway, the 250GB drive on my main computer (the cheapo Gateway notebook) has way more than enough space–heck, I’d never come close to filling the 80GB drive on my 5-year-old XP system. It’s OK by me that Gateway partitioned off 11GB or so as a recovery drive (E:), and I’ve become inured to the 10s of gigabytes that Vista and the various programs require.

    But I did note that the drive was down to something like 139GB free out of 221GB–still at least twice as much room as I’m likely to need, but still…I figure I’ve got less than 15GB of stuff, almost all of that MP3 versions of my music collection.

    So, since I use the McAfee Security Center, which includes disk maintenance tools, I thought I’d run the QuickClean process, which checks for and lets you delete various temporary and unneeded files–including, notably, System Restore Points. I probably run this two or three times a year…

    And now I have 173GB free. Why? Oh, a gigabyte or so of cached files, a few registry entries (no real space, but worth cleaning up periodically), perhaps a hundred megabytes or so of various temporary files and internet cruft…and 31+GB of system restore points!

    Since it’s been weeks since I’ve made any system change that could require a restore, this seems safe enough. I’m a little surprised that it was this much space–I don’t really do all that many things that should set restore checkpoints. It might be friendlier of Vista to provide a rolloff point, so maybe only the 10 most recent restore points are saved…but, I guess, hard disk space is now so cheap and plentiful that it’s not necessary.

    How much space is used by system restore checkpoints on your system? Do you care?


    A brief update on sales of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 and other books may be in order.

    For February, so far, three copies of Liblog (all Lulu, none since 2/12); two of Academic Library Blogs (both CreateSpace/Amazon); one of Public Library Blogs (CreateSpace/Amazon); one of Balanced Libraries (CreateSpace/Amazon).

    One commenter asked whether I’d sent out review copies of Liblog Landscape. I haven’t yet; it’s an expensive and slow process, frankly, and experience with First Have Something to Say (lots of review copies, a grand total of one print review) isn’t encouraging.

    Why do I mention this? Not as a plea for you to go buy these things–but as a checkpoint in desires to do further research. If I was doing a new (single) study to update the two library blog projects, I’d do it every differently–fewer blogs, more analysis, and probably a questionnaire to as many blog “owners” as I could locate to get “the other side”–known readership figures, success stories, etc. I might also do something similar if I continued the Liblog project (which is nearer & dearer to my heart).

    But either of those would involve a lot of work and inherently produce book-length results. It’s not just the oddity of spending that much time for a possible few dozen book sales, it’s the fact that the results are only reaching a few dozen people or libraries–which hardly makes it worthwhile. That’s not a plea; it’s simply reality. I’m good at ignoring reality, but maybe not that good. Sponsorship might solve some of these problems, but that would imply the existence of sponsorship.

    [And yes, that is also one reason I have yet to move forward with a possible “How to do short-run books good for your library and community” workshop: It’s another effort-vs-results quandary. A different one, to be sure.]

    No common thread

    Not much ties these together. Such is life, sometimes.

    Secret bonus for people who read this far: While Balanced Libraries isn’t a big success (it has yet to reach 300 copies), it’s been reasonably well received and reviewed. If I conclude that it really is silly to continue any of the blog tracking, I’ve been toying with doing a second edition–one that would incorporate Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” as a standalone (but indexed) section, take some new approaches elsewhere, and update the whole thing. Comments welcome–even if (particularly if?) they amount to “Don’t waste your time.” I’m not going to make any decisions all that rapidly…

    Cites & Insights 9:4 (March 2009) now available

    Friday, February 20th, 2009

    Cites & Insights 9:4 (March 2009) is now available.

    The 30-page issue (PDF as usual, but there’s an HTML version of the essay) consists of one essay:

    Perspective: The Google Books Search Settlement

    As an author with nine out of print books (to which I hold the rights): Great! I might see a couple hundred dollars…eventually. As one who cares about fair use: Boo! Google backed away from a case I thought they could win–and did so in a way that will make it harder for others in a similar situation. As a reader: Great–Google Books Search will continue to grow, and we’ll see more than snippess from (some? most?) of five million out-of-print/in-copyright books. (As for “buying” such books, or rather, “permanent” online access to indifferently-scanned pages that can’t be downloaded as PDFs and don’t appear to have first-sale rights: Eh.) As a library supporter and user: Unclear–extremely unclear.

    We won’t have final answers for a long time. Meanwhile, this issue reviews some of the summaries and commentaries, throwing in a fair amount of my own commentary.

    Barring truly unusual events, the April issue will have more than one essay, and almost certainly more than two.

    One note: While there is an HTML version of the essay, please don’t print out that version. It will require 38 pages (or more), and it’s almost certainly not as readable as the 30-page PDF. I’m providing it for online viewing, downloading, cut & paste, whatever…but printing it would just be wasting paper.

    Grumpy blind mini-review

    Friday, February 20th, 2009

    Once in a while, now that I’m (at least temporarily) back in the “drop in to public library, get 3 or 4 books, read, repeat” mode, I like to pick up future-related books…sometimes, the older the better. They’re amusing, once in a while even worth commenting on. The more assured the projections, usually, the worse they are. (And, depending on the authors, I’m reminded that:

    Once a guru, always a guru, even if you’re always wrong

    a lesson useful for mere mortals, I guess.)

    I just finished reading a 1998 book, by a professor who used to be a journalist, on the future of news and information. I won’t give the title because…well, it was just disappointing.

    Not because the short-term predictions were, in some cases, wildly off the mark. That part I expected. (Hey, look, Microsoft’s now a media mogul thanks to MSNBC, and Microsoft Sidewalk is major competition for local papers… Anyone remember Microsoft Sidewalk? And, of course, AOL rules them all.)

    No. It was disappointing because it was sloppy–sloppy research, sloppy writing, sloppy assumptions. I don’t know why I didn’t apply Nancy Pearl’s rule and stop at page 37 (you know the rule: Give a book 100 pages minus your age to see whether it’s worth continuing). Maybe it was just annoying enough that I kept reading in the hopes it would improve.

    It’s from a university press, no less.

    Ah well. Next comes science fiction, and it’s one I can pretty much count on liking–one of James White’s “Sector General” novels. I remember some novellas from long ago…