Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Stephan Colbert, Jon Stewart, Andrew Sullivan, William Gasarch

Stephan Colbert is leaving the Colbert Report

Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show

Andrew Sullivan is no longer blogging

Bill Gasarch has resigned as SIGACT News Book Review Editor

Where will Gasarch get his news from?

Where will Colbert-Stewart-Sullivan get their reviews-of-theory-books from?

Why am I stepping down? I've been SIGACT News book Review editor for 17 years  (just as long as Jon Stewart has been doing The Daily Show.)  That's enough (more than enough?) time. I want time to spend more time with my books and my family. I will be on sabbatical next year so I am generally cutting down on my obligations.

 I have enjoyed it, gotten to know some publishers, got more free books than I know what to do with. I haven't paid for a math or CS book in... probably 17 years.

While writing reviews is great, figuring out who reviews other books, getting them the books, getting the review from them, editing it all into a column four times a year, can get to be routine. Though I DO like reading the reviews.

Who will take over? I asked Lance who would be good and he said `someone old who still reads books'- so I asked Fred Green who agreed to take the job. I then had to get my files (of reviews, of who-owes-me-reviews, of which-books-do-I-want-reviewed, etc) in order to email to him. The usual- I wish I had cleaned up my files years ago so I could benefit from it.

The main PLUS of the job was that I got to read lots of books and learn about some fields.  As someone who would rather read a good book rather than produce a bad paper, the job suited me.

The main NEGATIVE of the job was seeing so many books that I WANT to review but either didn't have time to (and I usually KNEW that and had someone else review it) or found myself unable to (gee that books is harder than I thought!) leave my office for someone else to review.

The biggest change that Fred will encounter is e-books.Will publishers want to send out free e-books instead of hardcopy? Will reviewers want hardcopy? This is of course a very tiny part of a more profound conversation of what will happen to the book market once e-books are more common.


  1. Thank you for your service as a book reviewer, Bill Gasarch. I hope that you successor will continue your good work.

    I do have a piece of advice (request?) for your successor. In this day and age of free online courses, Wikipedia, Youtube, and other free online sources of information, we as a society should take every step to encourage free online books. Books, in particular, textbooks, are way more expensive than they should be, and the main beneficiaries are not the authors, but rather publishers.

    Thus, let us encourage more authors to write free online books by automatically giving free books brownie points in our book reviews when compared to paid books of equivalent quality. For a great article on the case for free online books, see: http://from-a-to-remzi.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-case-for-free-online-books-fobs.html

  2. Who is Andrew Sullivan?

    1. In the future there will be a way to just type `Andrew Sullivan' into some kind of
      find-on-the-web thing to find out who he is. Maybe they'll call it a ``find machine''
      or a ``search engine''. Until then your best recourse is to ask someone who knows stuff.

      Andrew Sullivan is a political blogger whose blog is called `The daily dish'.
      He has been blogging for a long time (I think since 2000, if we had one of those
      search-thingies I could be sure) but recently called it quits.

  3. Really sorry to see you go. I always looked forward to the reviews you wrote personally, as I mentioned a couple of years ago via email. I hope your successor can fill your considerable shoes!

  4. Steph_e_n Colbert