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Based on what I've read, it's because there's a proliferation of $50
books where a good general guide would do. Why is there often no good
general guide? Users want more in-depth coverage, and they like big
thick books which they feel protect them from ignorance like talismans.
Even more importantly, however, there's often a lack of intelligent
decisions made about the writing.
For example, a recent trip involved shopping for a book to teach a
relatively new web author Photoshop. The eventual choice was a Visual
Quickstart guide, because it was all examples and then summaries of
theory. Most books failed because they skimped on general introductions
that would have explained different types of task-based paths, then
gave cursory basic skills.
Worse, at the point when you'd expect their readers would cross from
"new user" to "got the hang of this," they slam them with detailed,
wordy instructions of complicated procedures, written as if to a new
user. It's like a non-cumulative guide, which means it repeats itself.
This is coupled with extensive text-only parts that are often very
useless for a graphical application.
I think our field can do better on the whole. I hope we choose to. I
understand the "TWs suck" blogger's arguments, and agree with her on
much of it, but I don't blame TWing, I blame where we are now. There's
a big difference.
--- Laura Lemay <lemay -at- lauralemay -dot- com> wrote:
> In computer book publishing these days a book is a runaway best
> seller if it sells 10,000 copies. Most computer books sell in the
> low thousands. The failures are subsidized by the successes. Book
> publishers spread out the risk by publishing a lot of titles on a lot
> of subjects. Even so it is a very very hard business and a lot of
> publishers have failed or been absorbed in the last 6-8 years.
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