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The Holmes Page THE SOAP BOX 1997/10/08



1997/10/08: Why Can't I Upgrade Books?   Although I normally try to avoid the frenzy of upgrades, sometimes I do like to keep up-to-date. 
I have a wall full of computer books, many of which are updates of the original books which match upgrades to the software packages. How much of each book changes from update to update? Oh, probably not more than 10%. So why do I have to buy each entire book over again? 
A new product always triggers a flurry of books, most of which are of dubious quality -- practically just reprints of the product manual. When I buy a book, it is only after serious research, and my buying decision would be made easier if I knew that there was an "upgrade path". 
I have several versions of several CA-Clipper books and a few copies of Programming Windows by Charles Petzold. That last one came from Microsoft, and while you don't expect miracles from them, at least they should understand the principle of upgrading. 
Sometimes I hold off so long for the updated edition of a book that the product goes obsolete! It makes me think that anyone who is stupid enough to buy a computer book better be smart enough to buy it as soon as comes out. Or is that the other way around? First editions of computer books are as notorious for errors as version 1.0 of a computer program. 
At least the publisher O'Reilly has the creativity to post updated chapters of its books to its Web site. 
I recently took a chance a bought a book on the Java 1.1 language (from O'Reilly, no less). Now it looks like version 1.2 will be arriving soon. Oh well. 
Even though there are Web sites where I can learn the ins and outs of Java, a book still feels better. I am really not at all comfortable with a computer on my lap during that quiet time when I'm sitting on the "best seat in the house", if you know what I mean...

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