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    © 2005 by Naba Barkakati


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May 24, 2005


Joe Wikert

Hi Naba. I was a couple of years behind you learning the C language from K&R in 1984/1985. I totally agree that it was a very effective, small book. But, while you could obviously learn the language from K&R, it didn't offer all the rich and detailed examples you can find in other C tutorials. In fact, I wound up using K&R as more of a core reference and probably got more tutorial use out of a couple of the other books from back then, including Stephan Kochan's book on ANSI C.

That said, I also agree with your observation on the size of computer books. As a publisher, I'm as guilty as anyone of allowing us to focus (sometimes) on page count and spine width. We often worry that a book will "get lost on the shelves" if it doesn't have a large enough spine. Does that justify padding a book with 100 pages or more of fluff? Absolutely not, but it's sometimes a difficult trap to avoid.

You and I have both posted in the past about more bite-size chunks, and I truly believe that will be an important concept for the future. I tend to get many of the answers to my questions from Google. The information I find via Google is generally in bite-size chunks (as opposed to chapter-length pieces). We just need to find the right platform and delivery mechanism for these bite-size chunks.

Naba Barkakati

Joe, I was wondering if the evolution to bite-size chunks might be through an intermediate step where the chunks are a bit larger, perhaps several chapters- - for ease of selling through our current online channels and then maybe we can have some protocols worked out for delivery of even smaller chunks (including some way to get the payments). Perhaps Wiley can set up an online store where I could search/browse and buy those intermediate-size chunks using PayPal, just as I buy stuff on ebay. If we can create the market with a fairly low investment, then it'd be possible to try out ideas. Of course, we still have the problem of figuring out the format for the chunks and whether we need some protection or is a low price point good enough to enable distrbution in the open (with the stipulation that the buyer is not allowed to redistribute and post on the Internet). Lots of things to work out, but I hope we'll get there in the near future :-)

Joe Wikert

Hi Naba. We actually did something very similar to this in the hold Hungry Minds days. It wasn't terribly successful, but that doesn't mean it won't work in the future. The other problem was that it featured electronic content which mirrored the print version. As I've said before, I don't think that formula is ever going to be that popular.

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