More Crappy Print-on-demand Books — for Shame, Addison-Wesley “Professional”

11 Aug 2013

So, a while back I wrote about some print-on-demand editions that didn’t live up to my expectations, particularly in the area of print quality — these Tor print-on-demand editions.

Now, I’ve come across one that is even worse. A few days ago I ordered a book from Amazon called Imperfect C++ by Matthew Wilson — it’s useful, thought-provoking material. Like the famous UNIX-Hater’s Book, it’s written for people with a love-hate relationship with the language — that is, those who have to use it, and who desperately want to get the best possible outcomes from using it, writing code that is as solid and portable as possible, and working around the language’s many weaknesses. (People who haven’t use other languages may not even be aware that something better is possible and that complaints about the language are just sour grapes; I’m not really talking to those people).

The universe sometimes insists on irony. My first copy of Imperfect C++ was very poorly glued; the pages began falling out as soon as I opened the cover and began to read. And I am not hard on books — I take excellent care of them.

So I got online and arranged to return this copy to Amazon. They cross-shipped me a replacement. The replacement is even worse:

Not only are the pages falling out, because they were not properly glued, but the back of the book had a big crease:

So I guess I’ll have to return both.

I’ll look into finding an older used copy that wasn’t print-on-demand. But then of course the author won’t get any money.

Amazon, and Addison-Wesley, this is shameful. This book costs $50, even with an Amazon discount. I will be sending a note to the author. I’m not sure there is much he can do, but readers should not tolerate garbage like this. Amazon, and Addison-Wesley, fix this! As Amazon approaches total market dominance, I’m reminded of the old Saturday Night Live parody of Bell Telephone: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the Book Company.”

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