Why do we write high level monographs that very few people will buy? Should we?
- We are delusional. We think that a book will sell and make us real money. (I never thought this for my book.)
- We want to get a certain body of knowledge out there. (Yes for my book, though I later wrote a survey gems.pdf, gems.ps. that did a much better job. This is partially because AFTER co-writing the book (co-author Georgia Martin) I knew what I wanted to say.
- We want an excuse to learn a field. (Yes for my book, and even more so for a book I am working on on van der Warden stuff. See later in this post.)
- We write books to help us get promotions. In terms of time spend, papers are much better for Tenure. For Full Prof books may be okay. (This is not why I wrote my book, though I think it helped my Full Prof case.)
- We are intrigued by the mathematics that dicates that the book cost $80.00 for you to buy, and for each copy my co-author and I split $5.00.
- We like the fact that if there is a mistake it's hard to correct, and once a new result is discovered its hard to insert.
Having said all this, there are two advantages to having a publisher
- If people refer to a particular theorem or page in the book, its bad if the book keeps changing. I don't take this seriously since the book won't change THAT much and this should not be much of a problem. Of course, you don't quite need a publisher for this, you just need discipline to not change stuff.
- The books may never get finished. I have 160 or so pages of a book on VDW stuff (co-authored with brilliant undegraduate Andy Parrish) that is on my website. (I am not supplying a pointer- I want to polish it some more before advertising it.) I was planning on getting it into a reasonable state and then blogging about it. But I keep wanting to add more. And its never quite finished. And I don't have a publisher telling me ``The draft is due on Nov 1, 2007'' . If I did then I would be forced to find a reasonable stop point.