[nSLUG] tech books in Halifax?

Jeff Warnica jeff at coherentnetworksolutions.com
Wed Oct 17 22:27:30 ADT 2007

On Mon, 2007-10-15 at 21:21 -0300, Mike Spencer wrote:

> James Roswell made a valiant run at a tech bookstore.  In the 89-94
> window, he had a fair selection of "real" tech books -- K&R, _The
> Algorithmic Beauty of Plants_, that big series of books on X, O'Reilly
> books etc.  But almost nobody bought "real" tech books and he gave up
> on carrying them years ago.  The last time I was in, maybe a year ago,
> he was reduced to a tiny space with what I took to be mostly leftovers
> on the shelves.  Too bad.  He tried and the hackers just didn't come.

I really don't think that he did. Or at least, he was horrifically
incapable of reading his own stock and setting up a website that diddn't
suck in 1995. Roswell was the first bookstore - not to mention, first
tech book store - online, period.

He could have been Amazon. Well, maybe Photopoint. But he didn't even
try. I once thought it cool that Halifax had a tech book store, but the
day I started being able to ship in things direct from O'Reilly cheaper,
and faster then I could get them at Roswell (them never having
the /right/ book in stock), I stopped pretending to care.

> So anyhow, this was really pissing me off, what with Halifax and
> N.S. touting Our Fair City as a center of academic excellence
> fulminating with intellectual creativity and all. So I started asking
> around at Dal, hitting a fairly diverse selection of faculty --
> philosophy, nursing, business, classics and medicine.  Annndd... I was
> told, essentially, "Oh, we don't buy books.  They're so expensive, you
> know."  Say what?  I'm some kind of eccentric, poverty-stricken
> artist, blacksmith, farmer and wanna-be hacker with a hobby sideline

Nope. Professors don't buy books, they get given them to "review". Thus
when you get for free 5 text books a year, then yeah, $100 on one would
be expensive.

And "text books" are established truths / state of the world kind of
things.. Interesting things happen in papers, which are published in
entirely different mechanisms then are things you give to students.

> in cognitive science, all of which pays mostly in quatloos.  And *I*
> buy serious books.  Tenured Dal faculty can't afford to keep up with
> the serious hard-core stuff published in their respective specialties?

If its hard-core and becomes part of the background noise of their
interest, some publisher will give them a textbook to "review" soon
enough. If its hard-core and new... thats what journals are for.

> Feh!  If the professors don't buy books, they can't wave them at
> students, evaluate them for inquiring but inexperienced minds, loan
> them to same and so on.

Evaluation comes from the free copies. How many copies of a first year
calculus text does someone with a PHD in math need?

> So here's my suggestion: Forget Halifax.  Get in you car and drive --
> what? 14 hours or so? -- to Harvard Square.  Park and walk.  You'll
> find several really good book stores within a few blocks with lots of
> tech books (not limited to *computer* tech, either). The MIT Coop and MIT
> Press store are two subway stops or 20 minutes' walk away.  And if you
> buy several hundred bucks worth of books, you'll save the cost of your
> gas and lodging over Halifax prices.

Or get a Safari account and read books from more then 20 publishes from
O'Reilly themselves, to MS, Cisco, MySql Press, Prentice Hall,

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