Problems with my new book

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First off, I apologize. As if writing a book wasn’t hard enough, now we get new problems because of on-demand printing.

Here’s the story.

Book. Nine months of writing. Excellent technical editing. Great copy editing. Book complete about six weeks ago. Yay!

Now things get fun…

Here’s how it works. Everyone these days uses digital copies of the book and prints on demand. So Apress is printing some copies of the book, but not all. They send a file out to places like Amazon. Amazon uses that file to print some copies of the book, as needed, on-demand. Everyone is, in theory, printing from the same digital file, creating exactly the same book. Or are they? What happens if, oh, let’s just say that a file was corrupted somehow prior to being sent to Amazon. Now Amazon starts printing copies of the newly released book. But, the files are messed up. People are getting books with completely hosed formatting. People, appropriately (however much it pains me), post ugly reviews on Amazon about the horrific condition of the book. The author, editors and the reputation of the book suffers. Though we did nothing wrong.

While I love this modern age to death. It does introduce some unique new challenges.

For those interested in my new book, wait a few days. It’s on hold while validations of the files are being made with vendors. It will be available again in about a week. If you’ve purchased a copy and it doesn’t have typos on every single page, you win. If, on the other hand, you’re looking at a steaming pile, I apologize. Contact Amazon, or whoever you received it from. They have an updated digital file and should be able to satisfy you.

If anyone has a bad copy of the book that they’re willing to part with, I’d love to have it for my collection.

I want to apologize again. This was outside my control, but it does reflect poorly on me. I’m doing everything I can to make it right for you. I understand your frustration, and agree with it.

UPDATE: You should contact the vendor you purchased the book from to get it fixed. Sorry for any confusion.

29 Comments

  • Hey, I have one of the bad copies and just sent an email off to APress. I’ll be happy to send you my bad copy, just let me know the address. Looking forward to reading the new book.

  • It’s unfortunate that file hashes/signatures aren’t more popular/used. A simple MD5 of the file included in the e-mail would have triggered a red flag. And if you use something like GPG, you get that plus they know it came from you!

  • G Bryant McClellan

    Personally, Grant, I don’t see this as a reflection on you at all. And I doubt anyone who knows anything about you would either. The rest are probably neophytes anyway 🙂

    I think the issue we run into with technology is we become too trusting. I think printing on demand rather than murdering innocent trees just to fill a warehouse is great. But like Ben mentioned, a little care on the publishers’ part with regard to specifications for submission and acceptance would go a long way to eliminating this kind of thing.

  • Peter Schott

    Glad to know that the problem was caught relatively quickly, though it would have been nice to know they got the correct file in the first place. I know that APress was a little slow in updating the alpha book on their own site, but it’s updated now and looks great in PDF form. 🙂 I look forward to reading it. 🙂

  • Well, I know it doesn’t change who I am or what I present, but it does reflect on me because there are, currently, only one star reviews on the web site. That’s a problem. Not sure what I can do about it, but I’m doing it.

  • I preordered mine about a week ago, and Amazon said it’d be 4-6 weeks. That struck me as odd, but maybe they’ve already figured out there’s an issue and they’re not printing more. Good sign.

  • Tony McBroom

    I am one of the people that gave the book an “ugly” review. I do apologize if it was seen as demeaning to the author, it was not my intent. I would assume you have little control over the type-setting process. I still cannot wait to dig into the book when I get a clean copy. In short, no offense meant towards you Mr Fritchey, you are one of my favorite technical writers.

  • Tony McBroom

    I will be changing my review on Amazon since it not a reflection on the content, just the type-setting. It was unfair of me to judge the books contents on it type-setting alone.

  • Of course no offense. I’d be angry beyond belief to be looking at what you guys are. You’re 100% in the right. No question. I’m on your side.

    That said… ouch! As the author, that hurt. Further, if that review stays up, it hurts for a long time, regardless of what Apress or Amazon have done.

    Until you’re satisfied, please leave that review up there. I want things right.

  • Tony McBroom

    I could not wait. I really did not think the ramifications of my review through to fruition. I never gave an unselfish thought to what my rant could do. I am and plan to stay a fan of your writing. Most (not all, I like a few others as well) technical authors pump out tomes that are quite robotic in nature and do not inspire one to plow on at 2:00 in the morning when the backups are running!

  • Tony,

    Completely unnecessary, but appreciated. I’ve been guilty of banging out stuff too, but I really do love this book, so hopefully it shows. I appreciate your kind comments. If you need help, you know how to track me down.

  • FYI here’s Apress’s response:

    Andy,
    Thank you for getting in touch with us.
    We would suggest you to please contact amazon first, they will go ahead and replace the book for you.
    In case you still face the problem please get back to us, we will surely try to find an alternative that will be of your interest.

    With best regards,
    CrestCS

    So I will ping Amazon – just a heads up to anyone out there that has a bad copy but hasn’t pinged the point of sale (Amazon, etc.) yet – Apress apparently would like you to do so.

  • Tony McBroom

    The following was the first comment on my review on amazon:

    Please contact me — jonathan.gennick@apress.com. I’m the editor of the book. We are working to identify and correct the problem. We would like to make things right by making sure you get a clean copy.

    Haven’t heard a word from them…

  • Tony McBroom

    Mr. Gennick just emailed me and told me that I should be receiving the new book in about a week! He also gave me a code to allow me to download an electronic copy of the book in the meantime. I am shocked they allotted me the electronic copy, I am really quite pleased. Thanks again Grant, it would appear you are a master at things other than SQL Server and writing! Cannot wait to start reading the digital copy.

  • Ha! I wish. No, that’s all Jonathan. He’s been a wonder during this little debacle. I owe him big time. First for having any faith in me at all, & second for backing me up completely on this.

  • techvslife

    I’ve gotten two replacements from amazon, the latest one was just last week, but both have severe formatting errors (weird kerning that makes the text unreadable; for example: “optimizeper forman ceb”). How do I get amazon to send me one without errors? Or perhaps I should just wait another month until end of August? Thanks.

  • I just don’t know. I’m doing everything I, but it’s completely out of my control. I know that people are getting good copies. It’s all down to this print on demand mechanism. I apologize for the issue.

  • Ronna Williams

    Is the problem just with the print copies or also with the Kindle version? I really want to order this asap – it sounds like a great addition to my library!

  • techvslife

    Mr. Gennick was very helpful, if amazon fails you. At any rate, glad to hear the problem has been fixed; the sql 2008 edition was very good and looking forward to the 2012 ed.

  • Hi Grant,

    I do have the Kindle version and no issues so far.

    I am also planning to give a fair review soon. You are one of my favorites, if not the best, MS-SQL authors.

OK, fine, but what do you think?