Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Syngress Replies to Book Content Posts

Last month I posted three stories about reprinted content in certain Syngress books. Andrew Williams, Vice President and Publisher for Syngress, was kind enough to provide the following reply to my stories.

Andrew Williams, Publisher for Syngress here. My apologies for not posting to this thread sooner. I took some time off around the holidays, and just found Richard's blog of this now.

Yes, as Richard points out, we have certainly published books where specific chapters are re-used/re-edited/re-printed from previous books that have complementary material. This is due in very large part to the fact that Syngress publishes a significantly larger number of (as well as more specialized) security titles than most other publishers. So, there are situations where we publish multiple books with a different focus into related areas. If you look at our security list, you'll see that we cover many topics in more detail than a lot of other publishers: See this link.

Topics where other publishers may just have a chapter in a book, we frequently have an entire book (or more). As a result, we at times find we have content that is relevant to one or more books that we are publishing. The Buffer Overflow book is a good example. That book is close to 400 pages covering exclusively buffer overflows. BOs don't receive anywhere near that type of coverage in any other book.

And, this is a VERY VERY VERY targeted audience. When we then publish a broader book covering BOs in addition to other types of exploits, etc. some of the more specific content from the book exlusively covering BOs is applicable to the new book.

When this situation arises, we can either include the relevant content from the previous book, or we can refer the reader to the previous book without including the content. If we choose the later, we are forcing the reader to either continue with the current book without providing them w/ material that is actually relevant. Or, they must then go and purchase the other book as well. We think our readers are better served by including the material.

Believe me; our intent is not to somehow slip this by our customers. As one of the posts pointed out, customers reading multiple books on similar topics will certainly notice instances where chapters may appear in multiple books. And, we are definitely not re-using chapters to fill out a page count. On the three books Richard mentions, we had to go back in on all 3 books midway through production to tighten up the design (fonts, margins, etc.) becuase the books were starting to run well over their target page counts. Each of those books could easily have been half again as long as they came out had we used just a standard design. Point being, we are not trying to pad the page count.

Even with all that said, we publish as much (and probably more) very original, timely, securuty content than just about any other publisher out there. And, I am not at all taking away from the other publishers. Richard's books from AW are unbelievably good, along w/ many of their other titles. Wiley is also publishing a lot of very good security titles these days. But, if you look at our entire security list, I think you'll see that we have as much breadth and depth of security content as just about anybody.

So, we're not trying to fool anybody and we're not trying to skimp on the content. In fact, each of these 3 books (as do all of our books) provide the reader with 4 free chapters from other, related books that can be accessed from our Web site. So in many cases, the reader is getting several hundred additional pages for the purchase price of the one book. And, they're not foced to go and buy an entire other book to get related conntent. We examine each book individually to determine if it delivers on its promise. Sometimes the best way to do that is by re-using good content that we have already written, edited, published, etc.

All that said. The last thing we want to do is publish from an ivory tower. I think anyone reading Richard's blog who has spoken or worked with me or any of our authors knows that we are pretty accessible and open to input, suggestions, comments, criticism, etc. from everyone in the community. My e-mail is andrew at syngress dot com. I'm at almost all of the security shows. And, I'm open to suggestions (or flames) people want to send my way.

Andrew Williams
Vice President and Publisher
Syngress Publishing

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