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 Post subject: What is generally expected from a Go book & its "reviews" ?
Post #1 Posted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:01 am 
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(From the discussion on Robert Jasiek's self-review on his new book "Positional Judgement 2 / Dynamics")

I would like to comment Robert's reply (that is linked above) in a separate thread, because I think that most elements are independent from the "self-review" matter.

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tl;dr: Dear Robert, the "researcher" in you massively hurts the "publisher" in you.

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RobertJasiek wrote:
Cassandra, in the ideal world, soon we would be having many reviews from players of different strengths so that other players know about the early readers' experiences.

Dear Robert, in an ideal world reviews would be superfluous.
In an ideal world, the entire book's contents would be available for free. And everyone, who read the book, and got something out of their reading experience, would be so fair to "buy" that book thereafter.

RobertJasiek wrote:
In reality, potential readers, for whom the book title does not say enough, need (TOC, sample and) a description written by the author (or publisher, if different).

In reality, there are several parties engaged, and each of these parties has their own individual "needs", which are not necessarily compatible with the "needs" of the other parties. Let us rank these parties by their financial engagement: readers – publisher – author.

The readers (but note that this is not a homogeneous group at all) want to get sufficient equivalent value for their money that they have given to the publisher. And they want to be sure about this topic BEFORE they spend their money. It would be best for the readers to get access to the entire book's contents BEFORE their buying decision; but this is not the interest of the publisher !!

The publisher wants to earn money. Therefore, everything is fine for the publisher that boosts the sales of "his" books. Advertising will make the books as attractive as possible. The only really desired sentence in a review will be "I can recommend buying this book."
Should there be any flaws mentioned (e.g. low printing quality), the publisher will consider, whether it is financially reasonable to eliminate these (for "his" next books).
The message "our readers' needs are fulfilled by the book" (by which reasoning ever) is important for the publisher. Whether these "fulfilled needs" match the intentions of the author, is of no interest. The best that could happen to the publisher is that the books are sold only based on the information "it's from this publisher", or "it's from this author".

Usually, the author earns only a fraction of the money that the publisher gets. Usually, also the author will be interested in large sales of "his" books. But – contrary to the publisher – the author is also interested in these parts of the reviews that tells him, which needs of the readers were not really fulfilled by his book (might be related to contents, or to the presentation style). In order to adjust his next book better.
But STOP !! Isn't the "author" really two persons ?? Isn't the author a combination of "writer" (related e.g. to "presentation style") and "researcher" (related e.g. to "contents") ??

Apparently, one of your major interests, Robert, is to get all the intentions of the "researcher" fulfilled in reviews about YOUR books !! But the researcher's intentions for developing the book's contents usually will be very different from the readers' intentions for reading the book.

RobertJasiek wrote:
You suppose that everybody would assume an author to have created a good work suitable for good learning, and as optimists we can make this assumption of every book.

NO !!
The readers (please remember that this is not a homogeneous group at all) would like to have bought a book that matches their needs. These needs might contain "good description of theory", "well applicable general / special concepts", "good examples that can be used in actual play", "good examples for practising", "good examples for memorising already known subjects", "just have fun while reading", "good source for learning XXX", and so on.
The publisher would like to have a book published that sells very well (for what reasoning ever).
Different authors will have different aims what their readers should learn. It is the accountability of the "writer" to enable the readers "learning" something.

We do not know what is meant by "good learning", related to every published book. So we are unable to judge whether this "aim" is really accomplished by every book.

RobertJasiek wrote:
However, this overly simplifies because, you know, different books are different.

Of course.

RobertJasiek wrote:
Different in quality (e.g., on how well or how much one can learn), different in suitable playing strengths of readers and different in how much strong readers can expect to learn from the book.

"Quality" is not restricted to the "learning" items you mentioned above.
In my opinion, with the rest of your enumeration you are mixing topics that are largely independent from each other.

RobertJasiek wrote:
Until there are reviews by readers that are strong players, such potential readers (if they do not get physical access to the book before) need some information telling them to which extent the book might be worth reading for themselves.

It is not mandatory to have reviews by "strong" players. Just because there is no guarantee at all the "stronger" player still remembers their needs as "weaker" players (for which the book might be primarily designed for).

RobertJasiek wrote:
The information by me that I have learnt a lot from the contents of the book can help such dan players, if they trust my description.

The information that YOU have learned a lot from the contents of the book is given by the "researcher", but neither by the "writer", nor by the "reader".
Your claim is similar to telling the potential readers that the book contains contents that YOU (as the "researcher") were not aware several months before the publishing date of the book.
But who matters that YOU (as the researcher) now do know (let's say) the solution of a tsume-go by heart that you were unable to solve earlier ?? The readers expect that the correct solution to that tsume-go is given and explained in the book. Nothing more !! It is self-evident that you (as the "researcher") know the correct solution now. Otherwise it would be pointless to have that problem in your book.
It is also self-evident that it is not mandatory for the "writer" to fully understand that correct solution.

RobertJasiek wrote:
You seem to suggest that I (or other authors) would learn much while writing each of my (their) books.

NO !!
My statement carried another message.

I wanted to clarify that someone who is still unsure to what extend he has "really" understood an issue, might gain important insight by explaining this issue to others.
If he fails, his trial might have suffered from various circumstances:
– He has not yet "really" understood that issue.
– He used insufficient pedagogical means for his explanations.
– The "other" one was not the right "guinea pig".

RobertJasiek wrote:
No! When writing beginner books, I learn almost nothing.

This is absolutely no surprise.
You (mostly the "writer") simply wanted, tried, or really did, to convert your current knowledge (as the "researcher"; about a particular subject) into a form that allows others to understand certain content and use in their games.

RobertJasiek wrote:
When having written Volume 1, I have learnt only little because I knew almost all of the contents before starting to write it.

See above. Telling us the "researcher's story" does not add much to the value of the book.

RobertJasiek wrote:
Volume 2 is different: I have learnt much while writing it because much is new (or new in its explicit, clear description).

See above.

RobertJasiek wrote:
While you dismiss new, or newly described, theory as immaterial, I think that it is essential to know this because it is not the usual book that just restricts itself to previously common knowledge.

NO !!
The "researcher" in YOU overestimates the importance of ("new") theory, compared to "common knowledge". It is not unlikely that parts of YOUR "new" theory are just "Robert Jasiek School".

Excursus: The laws of harmony are universal, and these are already present all over the world. Various Ikebana schools have different ways to teach how to get these laws transformed into practice. Some of these Ikebana schools are more attractive to Western people than others, which probably have the touch of "being too traditional", and so "not flexible enough", in Western eyes. But none of these Ikebana schools will ever claim that they have found the one and only "right" method to practice Ikebana.

In your review on my first published book on "Igo Hatsuyôron 120", you wrote "Of course, nobody needs a book on just one problem and being not particularly suitable for rank improvement."
It is evident that the potential audience for my book is extremely small. But what makes you so very sure about your statement ??

Just because "rank improvement" of the readers of YOUR books is YOUR primary aim for publishing these ?
Did you ever consider that "rank improvement" of the readers is NOT my intention for publishing books about Igo Hatsuyôron 120 ??

Why did you evaluate it absolutely unlikely that any of the readers might come to the following conclusion:
"Hmm, he is only 1 Kyû, but – with painstakingly efforts over years – has solved the most difficult problem ever created. I will take up my studies again; and in two years I will be 3 Dan for sure."

The really most difficult Go problem ever:
Igo Hatsuyoron #120 (still unresolved by professionals, maybe solved by four amateurs)

 Post subject: Re: What is generally expected from a Go book & its "reviews
Post #2 Posted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 9:06 am 
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This thread appears to be simply a distilled continuation of a thread that was sliding into a violation of the TOS.

Jasiek-bashing is not a wintertime sport on L19.

Such a discussion might be better continued by PM.

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