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A new timber tech book. Would you buy it?

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nicguthrie

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I'm afraid at those prices it would be one of those books permanently on my wish list on Amazon, waiting for a voucher or a discount - not that it doesn't sound like it would be well worth the money, as it sounds like a very comprehensive and, with 300 illustrations, potentially beautiful book, but it's very level of knowledge, and comprehensive nature, would suggest to me it's more suitable for someone with a desire to be as good a furniture maker and woodworker as yourself.

Strangely, I was a biologist once upon a time, and at that time had a few academic books covering aspects of plant, fungal and cellular biology that were fairly similar in title at least to the chapters that you've listed. As an academic book , the prices that you list are fairly standard, so it could potentially net you quite a lot of sales if the information is close enough to modern course work in some part of the university syllabus. Have you looked into this? By tweaking the information contained in the more in-depth chapters so that it follows "required reading" in certain courses, you could tap into a very lucrative market. To do that successfully tho, you'd need to make sure the information was carefully relevant to courses, especially since as has been already pointed out, there are so many sources of information now.

I'd suspect any woodworker aiming for a vocation as a professional or studying the actual science of wood for some course or other, would come to view such a work as their bible. For those of us with less ability to take our woodwork to those levels, it would be a fascinating read still, and I wish you all the best.

Thanks for the link to a fascinating site too, your furniture gallery there and especially the photojournals on the manufacturing of at least one of the pieces is quite engrossing.

Nic.
 

Tierney

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Hi,

I am a weekend woodworker, so what I am looking for is a practical reference source. What are the properties of wood that matter, movement, workability, strength etc. I have Hoadley's book, that I think is gathering dust, and Nick Gibbs book which has a lot of pictures, but is very straightforward and easy to use. There are simple things that Nick misses, like shrinkage rates in the workshop for all the timbers listed.

For me the price tag would make me think twice; but, that is illogical as many have already said.

As you have already done the hardwork, you should publish it, even if you never made money from it, it is something you should be very proud of.

DT
 

Benchwayze

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I would buy it at around £35.00 too. At £50.00 I would probably try to find it in my Public Library. If I then felt it was worth £15.00 more, I would probably go the extra 'mile'.

Best of luck with it. :D
 

Sgian Dubh

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nicguthrie":ee35gr5l said:
I'm afraid at those prices it would be one of those books permanently on my wish list...
Fair comment.

nicguthrie":ee35gr5l said:
... if the information is close enough to modern course work in some part of the university syllabus. Have you looked into this? By tweaking the information contained in the more in-depth chapters so that it follows "required reading" in certain courses, you could tap into a very lucrative market. To do that successfully tho, you'd need to make sure the information was carefully relevant to courses, especially since as has been already pointed out, there are so many sources of information now ... Nic.
I haven't really looked into that as a primary sales outlet, but it's one possibility. Interestingly my peer reviewer of the section on wood strength and structures is a lecturer in civil engineering at a university. He commented that there isn't really a good source on this specific subject as it relates to wood, although the students of course do study the strength of materials in general, along with the testing procedures, etc. He said that my text is an excellent "soft introduction" to this particular area of the field, i.e., wood strength, the testing, issues relating to structures, etc.

Glad you enjoyed a peek at my website. Slainte.
 

Sgian Dubh

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Tierney":2ez0v3aa said:
I am a weekend woodworker, so what I am looking for is a practical reference source. What are the properties of wood that matter, movement, workability, strength etc. DT
I like to think I have a lot of what you're after covered. Anyway, if I can get the book published I'll be letting people know, so hopefully you'll have chance to decide if it's for you. Slainte.
 

houtslager

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Count me in for a copy, am always a sucker for a good reference book, and as mentioned earlier, HOADLEY's book is too " American " so a broad based spectrum book on the Worlds' timbers with inference to their uses would be on my chrimbo list, at 35 -50 quid it would be a snap buy for me.

hth you in speeding up the publishing :)
 

Jelly

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Have you contacted the Wood Technology Society (part of IoM³, and successor to the Institute of Wood Science), I suspect that it would be highly relevant to their needs as a professional body and the accreditor of several HNC to Degree level Qualifications in the field?

I have access to my Father's library of Timber Technology books (and timber samples), but I'd still probably buy this as a one stop shop rather than having to piece stuff together from many sources.

At £50 it's cheap for a proper technical book*, and TRADA are the ideal publisher, they have so much more experience and resource available when it comes to serious technical works, I don't know that Lost Art or others could really offer that.

*There is at 1.5m long shelf above my desk at work with my "personal library" of reference books, the cheapest is about £130 to purchase new and most expensive would be £1000! All worth the money too in terms of their utility.
 

Heliotrobe

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£50 is very reasonable for such a comprehensive manual. I'd pay that in a heartbeat.

I really hope you publish it.
 

Sgian Dubh

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It's interesting this thread has popped back up to the surface almost two years after the last post.

I can say that a US based publisher has fairly recently purchased the rights to my manuscript (early October, 2015), and the last I heard they were looking at a provisional book release date of autumn 2016. They were also looking at, in addition to the book, the possibility of a series of informative leaflets and/or pamphlets, and doing something for the digital market.

All of the above are only possibilities, and the reality is, even though a publisher has purchased the rights to publish, it doesn't mean an actual publication of any sort will appear. However, I'm hopeful that something concrete will come out of all this, and if it does, I hope the forum administrators won't mind too much if I announce whatever 'release' occurs - personally, I hope they go for the full blown book (old style felled trees version) and maybe a digital download type! The pamphlets idea seems more of a spin-off, but might be an interesting way of publishing in a sort of collectable series. Slainte.
 

MusicMan

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I'll buy it (and I do have Hoadley, Wilson and White, etc). It is a topic that I have also studied quite intensively professionally, and the scope and depth look very useful. I would avoid self-publishing like the plague. The peer review and professional editing process add immensely to a book like this (and I've published a few). OK for a first novel, but not for a serious technical work.

The contents look comprehensive but I don't see mention of reaction wood and the difference in reaction wood types between most angiosperms and gymnosperms. Perhaps it is within chapters 6 and 7? It is an important topic for precision turning of musical instruments, especially in boxwood, and also for stability of musical instruments generally. For woodwind instruments, porosity and its distribution (ring/diffuse) is also important.

There looks to be a very nice linkage between the theory and the practical application. The attention paid to diseases, fungi etc is unusual and valuable.

OK it may be at the geek end of the market (where I unashamedly belong) but really would be invaluable, and your reputation as cabinetmaker should enhance its accessibility.

Keith
 

AJB Temple

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Most scientific and technical books these days seem to be published on-line. There is a large German owned publisher that pretty much has the academic market sewn up. I would not buy at £50 or £35. I might buy at £25, which is pretty much my limit for hard backs except for art books. I think you have an extremely limited market and probably the biggest problem is locating the target market rather than the price point.
 

mind_the_goat

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I don't think £50 is expensive for an academic reference book but as a hobbyist it's not something I'd buy, I assume you have approached some universities and agricultural colleges to see if this is something they would consider adding to reading lists?
 

Sgian Dubh

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MusicMan":14c8r9p9 said:
... I don't see mention of reaction wood and the difference in reaction wood types between most angiosperms and gymnosperms. Perhaps it is within chapters 6 and 7? Keith
Keith, this topic is covered briefly in section 5.1, Viable wood for conversion. There it says, for example "Compression wood tracheids (of gymnosperms) have thicker cell walls and less cellulose than normal wood and it is weaker and more brittle". On the other hand, further down in the text I say "Unlike gymnosperms where reaction compression wood is concentrated on the underside of the stem, angiosperm reaction wood, although mostly concentrated on the upper side, spreads more evenly around the whole stem."

There is more, for example, regarding fuzziness during machining, and challenges likely encountered in prepping, dying/staining and polishing, etc, and nothing I say relates specifically to musical instrument construction.

I appreciate your kind words about the little you've seen (section headings) and your potential interest. Thanks. Slainte.
 

Sgian Dubh

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AJB Temple":2i9xtqa0 said:
I think you have an extremely limited market and probably the biggest problem is locating the target market rather than the price point.
I agree with you. The market is limited, as is the case with all specialist subjects. On the other hand, a specialist publisher, one with a considerable history of publications in the craft field, including woodworking, has purchased the publishing rights, so hopefully their marketing team has spotted sales opportunities. Time will no doubt tell. Slainte.
 

Sgian Dubh

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mind_the_goat":1m7pokb0 said:
I assume you have approached some universities and agricultural colleges to see if this is something they would consider adding to reading lists?
As part of my research into the potential market I compiled a short list of educational establishments that run carpentry, joinery and furniture courses, although I haven't actually approached any of them regarding that issue. Interestingly, at least three colleges that run furniture courses have approached me asking when the book might be available, so that's a promising beginning, if nothing else.

One of my peer reviewers, an engineering lecturer at a university, commented that the section on wood strength would be an ideal introduction to the subject (specifically on wood strength subjects) for his students, as there isn't really anything else out there that he could direct his students towards for such information. Slainte.
 

YorkshireMartin

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It sounds like you have written a well researched, referenced and scientific publication. The main market for such a book, in its entirety at least, is not likely to be the enthusiast, but perhaps an industry specialist.

Complex reference titles are usually very expensive and for £30-50 I would expect no more than a throwaway read at best, if the subject was a highly specialist area and the book detailed. That's not to say cheaper books are not worthwhile, they can be if aimed at the mass market, but a genuine scientific reference can cost many thousands of pounds, the market is so limited and the cost of production incredibly high.

Perhaps an abridged version for the home woodworker and another version for the industry was an option, or could still be?

For the record, I would never consider an online version of this type of book, it's the kind of book I want on my shelf and personally I don't believe a e-reader can replace scribbling in the margin or folding over the corner of an important page (and I'm a technophile). That's before getting into the negativity surrounding e-books and the oft-associated scam marketing etc.
 

AJB Temple

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Interesting debate and perspectives. I started out as an academic on the field of mathematics. I love physical books and I buy a lot of them. However, one of my best American friends, who happens to be a maths professor, has made a huge amount of money selling his academic publishing business to the aforementioned German company. He now assures me that the cast majority of academic reference works (books and papers) are published on line because there is no money in physical publishing. It is much cheaper, faster and has almost zero distribution cost. Markets have to be established in this way and if demand is sufficient then hardback copies may be justified.

My wife has business links with Taschen and has a good grasp of the economics of print and distribution. I think it is essential that you clearly identify your target market. If it is small but price insensitive, then your plan may work. A few academic buyers will not deliver volume, and making money from publishing is a volume game. Cookery books are an excellent example of this: often great initial popularity and them the tail off is slow, so books in the best seller lists are often still selling well in year two.

I think your price point is a compromise between mass market (very limited and unpredictable demand) and academic / professional (too cheap to make money at low volume). I think the idea that that Yorkshire Martin came up with of an abridged tome for amateurs and a full on version for academics and pros is a very good one given that you have already invested so much time and effort in your work.

As an aside, as a businessman, my mantra is "don't spend much money or do much work until you have established the market". This is too late here, but next time try to pitch your work at a clear need in a clear market segment. Incidentally publishers are interested in making money from them, they care less about you. Make sure you are not underwriting their risk.
 

Sgian Dubh

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AJB Temple":paeua4e5 said:
As an aside, as a businessman, my mantra is "don't spend much money or do much work until you have established the market". This is too late here, but next time try to pitch your work at a clear need in a clear market segment. Incidentally publishers are interested in making money from them, they care less about you. Make sure you are not underwriting their risk.
I actually don't disagree with anything you say, particularly the bit I've quoted above. The business mantra is a fairly typical one, and it's correct.

However, I think a bit of background on the manuscripts evolution may be useful. I didn't set out to write a book. I set out to create learning material on timber technology for my furniture students, modified as needed into a series of lectures. And although I'd long had an interest in the subject, my knowledge was relatively haphazard, so creating this learning material involved research to rectify that scattergun approach, and providing references so students could conduct further study on the subject. To be honest, I simply got sucked further into the research purely for my own interest, and I really just got on with it because I enjoyed it. Then, the college where I worked became an HE institution, and with that status change came a greater emphasis on 'academic' activities, so creating the manuscript fulfilled that expectation.

To cut a long story short, over a period of about eight years, on and off, I'd created a substantial manuscript. I decided at some stage during that period something like, 'To hell with it, I'll just write it and then see what I can do with it.' Interestingly, fairly early in the writing process a couple of publishers expressed interest, and one even offered me a contract, which I immediately turned down - I didn't want to be on their timescale and publishing deadline (and perhaps other restrictions and conditions).

I did everything wrong from a business perspective, but to be honest, I knew that as I was writing it, and I just carried on anyway - I enjoyed the process for its own sake. It's satisfying that a publisher has bought the publishing rights, and hopefully they'll decide to print in the various forms they have outlined to me, e.g., book, a digital format of some sort, and extracts in the form of information leaflets, or similar.

Have I got a good deal with the publisher? - can't say for sure.
Will I get a decent return from whatever sales are generated? - again I don't really know, but I've never expected to be able to retire on income generated.

Anyway, the manuscript's written, and with a publisher, so I guess I'll find answers to the above points, and perhaps others, as time evolves. Slainte.
 

AJB Temple

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And so I wish you the best of luck. It sounds as if you have enjoyed the research and creative process, and financial success was not a motivation. Kind regards, Adrian
 

AndyT

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I wonder if there's any connection between this old thread and this blog post from Chris Schwarz at Lost Art Press?

“Trees, Wood & Woodworking” (tentative title) by Richard Jones. This is a book we haven’t had any time to write about. This book is an incredibly detailed look at trees and how their structure affects the furniture maker. It is written by a craftsman for woodworkers. No scientific background required. Kara is getting this book ready for the designer.


From https://blog.lostartpress.com/2017/08/1 ... d-our-way/

Looks like good news!
 
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