Re: How does one publish a short book?

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Feb 13 2001 - 17:13:48 MST

Carl Feynman wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> >
> > How does one go about publishing a small, short nonfiction technical
> > book? Does anyone here have any experience?
> It's hard. From the technical publisher's point of view, the costs are pretty
> much constant per title they publish-- editing, design, sales, distribution
> and binding are all costs that don't much depend on how thick the book is.
> But from the buyer's point of view, the value of a book, and hence the
> acceptable price, is roughly proportional to its thickness. So the only thin
> technical books that are efficient to sell are those that are visibly of high
> quality to the purchaser, i.e. those by big-name authors or on hot topics. And
> (not to disrespect you or anything) a first book on building a friendly AI
> doesn't qualify on either count.
> If you had a 300-page tome on the topic, you would have a better chance.

That's about what I figured.

> If you're willing to pay for printing and binding, you can get anything up to
> a professional-looking book from companies right there in your city. It's
> just a question of cost. I would warn against doing it online. Printers
> range from scrupulous craftsmen to malevolent fools, and you can't tell one
> from the other until you see their work. The usual procedure is to walk into
> the print shop with a file in some common format, and pick a bunch of options
> from examples they show you (binding, paper, etc). Then they make up the
> first copy, you go in and look at it and fix anything that's wrong, and then
> tell them to make 500 of them, or whatever. You really need physical contact
> with them during this process, in case you get a malevolent fool, or even a
> scrupulous craftsman who misunderstands your desires.

What I would really like is for somebody to be able to order a fast hard
copy of "Friendly AI" or "Coding a Transhuman AI" for four bucks plus book
rate - 6.50 total or whatever - and someone else would print it on demand
and ship it, maybe a spiral-binding 8x11 rather than a glossy-cover
pocket-paperback, but still a page-flippable hard copy.

As a member of the Webvan generation, I haven't yet found it necessary to
buy a car, so I do tend to favor the Internet side of this... but I'll
probably take your advice when the time comes.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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