Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Great Foreign Edition Book Giveaway

One of the nicer author perks is seeing your books appear in translation. In my 2003 Advice to Prospective Book Authors, I wrote:
Few things evoke quite the level of giddiness as seeing a copy of your book in a foreign script. I, for one, cherished my books in Chinese, and I continued to cherish them even after I found out that they were actually in Korean.
My publishers generally send me at least one copy of each translation they authorize. I often receive several copies, however, and over the years, I've amassed  more copies of my books in foreign languages than I have use for. Look!—these are the extra copies I currently have:

Instead of letting these books gather more dust, I've decided to give them away. Want one? Just ask. I'll autograph it for you and throw it in the mail, and all I'll request in return is that you cover the cost of postage.

I'll describe the details of how the giveaway works in a moment, but first let me show you the available inventory. Most books are in a language other than English, but what I'm technically giving away are foreign editions, so a few have the same text as the US book (i.e., they're in English). Such editions are generally printed on cheaper paper than their US counterparts, and like almost all the books I'm giving away, they use only one ink color, even if the US version uses multiple colors.

Here's what I've got:

Things to bear in mind:

  • For books with two ISBN lines, each line represents a distinct ISBN for the book. The upper one is the older ISBN-10. The lower one is the newer ISBN-13. (ISBN-10 vs ISBN-13 is the publishing equivalent of IPv4 vs. IPv6.)
  • Sometimes there are multiple versions of the same translation, e.g., there are two entries for German and for Japanese translations of Effective C++, Third Edition. In such cases, the only difference is typically the cover design. As far as I know, the substance of all translations of a particular book into a particular language is the same.
  • In the table, "Chinese" is ambiguous, because there are two versions of printed Chinese: traditional and simplified. To find out which Chinese is meant, use your favorite search engine to look up a book's ISBN.
  • I've tried to list accurate languages for the books, but, not being able to read most of them, I may have made a mistake here and there. If so, I apologize, and I hope you'll bring the errors to my attention.
  • The first two editions of Effective C++ are either old or really old. Both are out of date. They might be suitable for a C++ museum, or maybe you could employ them as research material for that Scott Meyers biography you've been working on (ahem), but the programming advice in these editions is not to be trusted. I'll send them to you if you ask me to, but before you make a request, think carefully about why you're doing it. It shouldn't be to improve your C++.

How the giveaway works:

  • If you'd like a book, send me email letting me know what you want and the address to which I should send it. If you'd like more than one book, that's fine, just list the books in priority order. (I'll ignore book requests posted as comments to this blog, sorry.)
  • I'll let the requests roll in for about two weeks (until about December 9), then I'll decide who gets what on whatever basis I want. My general plan is to assign higher priority to earlier requests and to issue everybody one book before issuing anybody more than one (i.e., to use a pseudo-FIFO pseudo-round-robin algorithm), but my plan might change. If your request includes an unusually good reason to satisfy it, I'll increase your priority. (An example of an unusually good reason would be that you'd like books to stock a library, thus making them available to many people.)
  • At some point (by December 16, I hope), I'll let you know whether I can satisfy your request. If I can, I'll put your book(s) in the mail, let you know how much the postage is, and request that you send me that much by Paypal. As it happens, I've gone down this road a couple of times in the past, and some of the promised payments never materialized. Nevertheless, my faith in the basic honesty of C++ software developers endures. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't do anything to change that.
Soooo...who wants a book that I can't read, that's out of date, or both?



Irfan said...

Hello Sire (my apologies for ignoring your advice to use the first name),

Considering that I already have the books, hence I would not be sending a request, however, just wanted to let you know that glad to hear from you once in a while, even if not on matters pertaining to C++ and other development related activities.

Take care, try to keep the followers posted, and have fun.


Irfan said...

Hello Sire,

In the “Odds and Ends” section of the article that you have linked to in the opening couple of lines, “Advice to Prospective Book Authors”, you have attributed the following words to Jesse Liberty:

“Don't EVER knock anyone else's book, but don't be afraid to mention your own book when asked for recommendations or for guidance.”

You begin the paragraph that immediately follows the quoted words by expressing your unreserved agreement with the said author’s advice, which raises the question that when confronted with such a question, how should one deal with it?

Although I failed to gain a following and recognition as an author, however, I have an inkling that at least a few people trust me as a source of authentic and reliable information. As an individual trusted by a few who also owns at least a couple of books which enjoy almost unanimous approval of the Amazon’s reviewers — you must have heard of Fiverr, eLance, and the whole reviewing scams run by the “scrupulous” few to help the poor wordsmiths earn a few in the process — I, upon evaluating and reading those books felt betrayed. The authors of those works betray their readers and badly so in at least two different ways: by failing to assign any importance at all to the presentation of the content, horrible typesetting; by stretching over hundred plus pages the information that they easily could have presented in fewer than 45 pages. The authors of those books could have, had they wanted to, effortlessly trimmed their narrative, and in their abridged and more likeable form, those works would have failed to result in even a dozen or so medium–length articles.

I bought the unnamed works in question when I had just started using Amazon, and I had yet to become aware of the fake review phenomenon, hence some of the fault rests with me, as well: I probably did not bother to even gloss over, let alone scrutinize, the table of contents section of the books. However, each of the works purchased, at that time, had in excess of a couple of hundred positive reviews on Amazon. To make a na├»ve buyer spend $20 or so on a poorly written and terribly presented book, investing $1000 or so in fake reviews certainly does not appear a flawed strategy. However, having bought those books and evaluated the quality of the material, I, for one, would find it impossible to endorse those authors’ works. This leads me to the question final question:

If someone were to ask me to comment on those works, what should I do? By shying away from such a question, or by not warning your readers or audience of the problems, don’t you think I would be doing a disservice to them?



Scott Meyers said...

@Irfan: The general context of that remark is promoting your books, and that's the part of Jesse Liberty's advice that I agree with. I also agree that you should not criticize anybody else's book in an attempt to make yours look better, but I see nothing wrong with pointing out shortcomings in books when you honestly feel that they have them and the context of your remarks is appropriate. I think an Amazon review is an appropriate context for measured, reasoned criticism (along with measured, reasoned praise).

Irfan said...

Hello Sire,

Thanks for explaining how I should have interpreted it. In a neutral state of mind, I probably would not have required further explication, however, owing to Amazon’s lackluster approach towards tackling the scourge of fake reviews, on at least a few occasions, I have received products, books or other items, that I can only describe as verging on terrible. Consequently, the appalling experiences did not allow me to read the material in the right context.

Once again, thanks for providing the context. Such experiences certainly can impair a person’s ability to retain neutrality at all of the times.