Just received another email from Amazon Japan updating the status of my order for Bre Pettis's new book, "Getting Started with MakerBot". It's been delayed once again. The new projected delivery is January 6, 2013 though I'm sure it'll be delayed again.
Same thing happened several times already with Joseph Prusa's book on RepRep. The Amazon note simply reads the following,
"Dear customer: We have learned that there is been a delay with some of the items in your order indicated above. When your order is shipped you will receive an email message confirming the date, contents, and method of shipment."
That's all, nothing more to be done, just keep waiting...
I'm sure that a big part of the problem is the fact that the whole RepRap and 3-D printer spaces are growing dynamically. Things are changing rapidly. It's not just our knowledge the growing, it's also all the available configurations. New competitors are entering the market. And even existing competitors are making dynamic changes.
Bre may have started his book back in the Cupcake or more likely in the Thing-o-matic days. But, by the time the book is written, edited, layed out, and is ready for distribution, the company is gone through one or two generations of products. The old products that were new when the book started are already obsolete, and the newer products don't have their legs under them yet. So it's hard to write anything of significant size, like a commercial book that should sell for somewhere in the order of 20 or $30, and have it not be full of obsolete or questionable information.
I suppose that Prusa is also in the same position. His personal and professional status is changed dramatically month by month. For example, he recently decided to turned his hobby or avocation into a full-time occupation. This puts a totally different twist on what he would write and how he would position things. Another good example is the Thingiverse, especially the controversy over Makerbot going commercial. Prusa was one of the major agitators demonstrating actively on the Internet against Makerbot taking what everyone assumed to be an open source sharing platform and change the rules of the game, modifying its terms of service. So, how do you position that in a book?
Of course, the heart of the problem is the fact that they're trying to do this using the traditional publishing methodology and market. Had they gone completely digital and published their books in a PDF or e-book format, using the Internet, they could have had several generations of the book out, critiqued, gotten feedback, and improved them several times already. Instead we have customers that have placed orders months ago, perhaps as much as nine months ago, frustrated and still waiting for the book that they thought that they would get as a introduction or entry-level home helping them get into 3-D printing.
I just added John Long's new book, "Darwin's Devices" to my reading list. Long serves as the director of Vassar College's Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory and is also a professor at the same institution focusing on cognitive science and biology.
Surfing the web, I ran across some recommendations and reviews of Long's book, and the subtitle, "What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology", immediately caught my attention.
Long's unique approach has been described as:
… he creates robots that look and behave like extinct animals, subjects them to evolutionary pressures, lets them compete for mates and resources, and mutates their ‘genes’. In short, he lets robots play the game of life.
Here's the author being interviewed about his new book: