Nu, a Jew

My officemate, long-time friend, and good colleague David Blatner was interviewed along with his rabbi co-author in the Seattle Times about their title, Judaism for Dummies. I gave David a lot of grief about the title, marking it as the height of oxymoronism (due to the heritage of learning, not our smartypantsness), and he took it good naturedly. It's a great book that I'm still working through and learning from. (Follow the link to the book for the table of contents and description as well; they also have Joy of Jewish dot com.)

David's book was published by Hungry Minds Press. This was the renamed IDG Books, a long-time publisher of computer bibles and Dummies titles. It was a wildly successful firm. Then they acquired the Internet training firm Hungry Minds at a huge cost, renamed themselves, and within a year found themselves massively in debt. I know several Dummies and IDG authors who found themselves suddenly cut loose just as their books were published: massive layoffs last spring, marketing budgets slashed or cut entirely, and delayed publication dates.

Finally, John Wiley and Sons purchased the Hungry Minds titles and will restore some sanity. Wiley has produced some great Internet titles over the years, more on the theory and analysis side of marketing, technology, and measurement, rather than on specific software. It's a good fit. But, of course, I now know other authors whose next edition revisions of Hungry Minds titles were cut as part of Wiley's careful look at the bottom line.

I sometimes don't know why it's worth writing books. And then I get email from someone who tells me how they got a job because of what they learned from a book I co-wrote, or how they put up a Web site about their family using techniques they learned, and it seems very rewarding.