But What of Michael?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/06/09 03:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/06/09/8583970.aspx

Apologies to Piers Anthony for the title allusion; the post has nothing to do with whatever you probably think it implies!

Back in late September of 2000, a book I wrote was first released entitled Internationalization with Visual Basic.

Internationalization With Visual Basic

The ISBN of the book: 0672319772 (Amazon link here).

But you probably don't want to buy any of the copies there, for reasons that may become clear shortly!

It was released at a very interesting time -- pretty much making its initial debut at the very VBITS where all of the backcompat breaks that Visual Basic.Net would introduce was first publicly announced.

Talk about being late to a party. :-)

Anyway, given that its primary technology coverage was of a product with no future, it obviously wasn't going to live forever. It went out of print, and I was granted a reversion of rights for the book.

At that time, I did request a PDF version of the book since there was a lot of cool conceptual work that was still going to be relevant anyway, and I wanted to be be free to give people the book or excerpts from it as needed.

Joel Spolsky spoke and wrote, waxing on quite positively about the book (even out of print then), saying stuff like:

I really didn't understand Unicode until I read that book, and since it's out of print, it usually costs around $100 on Amazon, but it saved our skin making FogBugz and CityDesk work right.

as I mentioned in this blog and this other blog.

So anyway, with only a few print copies left, I figured the PDF might come in handy. The only one I had was a late revision copy, and although it did not have the print problems in Chapter 3 (attributed to the NT4-based publishing system), it did have lots of revision marks. Which I figured might be distracting.

But I didn't get the PDF and was eventually told that one wasn't ever produced. And there wasn't a champion at the publisher -- with my acquisitions editor no longer there and her boss no longer there either, I just didn't have anyone to have advocate/argue the point on my behalf.

So I let it go.

I shrugged and sighed, and weathered the requests from customers for the book that they could not find, which even to the present day were still coming in at a rate of between one and ten a month....

Now I learned at a very early age from authors like Piers Anthony about what a reversion means in the publishing industry (his version of But What of Earth? with commentary summed both it and a shoddy publishing situation quite nicely, not that some of the players there were terribly nice).

So imagine my lack of surprise after recently telling someone that I had no PDF available that he found an eBook version of the book right here, priced at $35.99 (the print book was marked $49.95 originally).

But you probably don't want to buy any of the copies there, for reasons that may become clear shortly!

The eBook had none of the code from the CD available (and of course had no CD), so the book made reference to a lot of code that you couldn't see. The book had a new ISBN (0768657180) and it was marked ad being published in February of 2006 by Que (the latter was mildly amusing when the cover clearly had it as a Sams imprint!).

I looked back over my royalty statements and this new ISBN was never mentioned (the old ISBN was mentioned, even in months where no traffic was recorded, so this did indeed seem like a problem to me). A book of mine was being sold by a publisher without notifying me, after the title was declared out of print and I had been granted a reversion and there were going to be no more publishing attempts.

The great thing about having dim expectations is that when people make mistakes, you aren't ever really disappointed....

Though thankfully, after a quick phone call and a brief pause for some research in Indiana, Neil at Pearson (the company that owns Sams) quickly worked to right the matter:

I'll figure out something to do with the PDF now that I have it -- like I said, the book still has some use for the concepts even if the underlying technology is no longer "supported".

This blog brought to you by © (U+00a9, aka COPYRIGHT SIGN), of course!

Satchmo Pops on 12 Aug 2010 3:04 PM:

"So imagine my lack of surprise after recently telling someone that I had no PDF available that he found an eBook version of the book"

Do you mean this ebook? I'm exploring my choices since price for the printed copies are outrageously expensive.



Satchmo Pops on 12 Aug 2010 3:22 PM:

Do you know this book is out-of-print everywhere? The people looking for the book get discourage, but a portion of them still buy it (the used copies or the eBooks). Do you know that because of the out-of-print the book sells from $30 to $300 dollars?! Check the list of all sellers and prices here:


Despite the orientation to legacy Visual Basic, users still get recommendations to get a hold of the book (forums and USENET) as a definitive guide to understanding Internationalization and Unicode.

Now that you have the PDF, why not uploading it to CreateSpace or Lulu for those who want to buy it get their copy printed on-demand? Hope your intentions are not to kill you own master piece :-)

Michael S. Kaplan on 12 Aug 2010 8:33 PM:

You can search on the new ISBN to find it in electronic version for much cheaper than the print book. They fixed up the issue with not reporting sales....

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