Ben Langhinrichs

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December, 2010
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Genii Weblog


Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Mon 13 Dec 2010, 03:17 PM
These folks have clearly set up a production line to churn out hundreds of books on all sorts of topics, all taken directly from Wikipedia, and mostly without the slightest understanding of the content.  Some of the books only show up and BarnesAndNoble.com, while others are on Amazon.com as well.  Many seem to attributed to some cobination of these people, Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, Susan F. Henssonow and John McBrewster, all listed as editors.  They have books on topics from 4chan to Batman: Year one to Plant Evolutionary Developmental Biology to Pokemon.  They sometimes use Ibm instead of IBM in the name, so this sounds like an almost-automated process.

In particular in the IBM arena, watch for:

IBM Lotus Symphony by Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster
IBM Lotus Expeditor by Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster
Ibm Lotus Forms by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, Susan F. Henssonow
IBM Lotus Sametime Gateway by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, Susan F. Henssonow

Do not buy these books! They are poorly constructed compendiums of Wikipedia articles, often with no real relevance to the topic, and are churned out by a process that includes books such as 1 (number) and other such topics simply created automatically from an index.

I am trying to figure out how to flag these to Amazon and Barnes & Noble so they can remove them.  I hope they have some sort of content control to avoid such blatant scams.

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Mon 13 Dec 2010, 01:16 PM
I had an entertaining tweet in response to a link to my post, Are there no dummies using Lotus Notes?, but after a quick laugh, I realized that the person might have a point:

pnilakan

RT @blanghinrichshttp://bit.ly/iiSP0o - comparison with MS is unfair, they release products once in 3 yrs, so the book has a shelf life ! 


Perhaps the message here is relevant.  Perhaps the product cycle is such that a book is obsolete too quickly, before it has time to build a following.  It is tempting to ask authors to update more frequently.  For example, I have heard people for years suggest that Rocky Oliver and Brian Benz update their excellent book (see below), most recently in the comments to my last post, where Gregg Eldred mentions it.


But updating a book of that scope is a huge project, and if they didn't get sufficient sales or sufficient attention/leads/business because of the book, they are likely to skip it. So, perhaps we need smaller books that can be updated more easily.  I hope the Mastering XPages: A Step-by-Step Guide to XPages Application Development and the XSP Language book is like that, updated when necessary because it handles only one portion of the development possible.

It bears thinking about.

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Mon 13 Dec 2010, 10:52 AM
The latest Lotus Notes for Dummies book was published in 2003 for Notes 6.  There were Lotus Notes for Dummies books for R3, R4, R4.5 and R5 before that, as well as one for LotusScript in 1997 and some others.

There are usually three possible reasons for the absence of books:

1) No writers can or want to write them.  

2) No publishers want to publish them.

3) No readers want to buy them.  

Which of the three is it for Lotus Notes, or is it a combination?  The latest Lotus anything for Dummies book (2003):



What about the competitors?  On the Google end, there are several, but the relatively relevant and recent (2008 & 2009) are:


    



Microsoft Sharepoint seems to be getting more robust, and it has lots of "... for Dummies" books. Here are three published in 2009-2010:

      


So back to my question.  Which of the three issues holds us back, lack of writers, lack of publishers or lack of readers.

It hardly seems like there is a shortage of writers, although perhaps Microsoft and Google subsidize the books and IBM doesn't.  Take a look at the presenters at Lotusphere, and you will see lots and lots of potential authors.  It is possible that the "... for Dummies" people won't publish any Lotus Notes books, but they seem pretty agnostic.

That leaves you. Have you or your company bought any books for Lotus Notes/Domino, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections, Lotus Websphere?  There aren't as many as there are for some competitors, but they exist, and the single best way to make sure there are more is to buy the ones that are out already.  Here are a few you should consider right now. These are recent or upcoming books, and these authors have staked a lot on their success.  Those authors won't take that gamble again if you don't support them.  If you don't, please don't bother bemoaning the lack of professional documentation, as you have nobody to blame but yourselves.


        

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