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2021 October 1

Edition 1.3 released today!

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:50
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I finally released the new version of the textbook Applied Analog Electronics today at https://leanpub.com/applied_analog_electronics. The book is a little longer than the previous editions:

Edition 1.1 Edition 1.2 Edition 1.3 type
659 673 691 pages
337 342 348 figures
14 14 14 tables
515 523 528 index entries
162 162 169 references

The newest edition adds a new section in the active-filters chapter, some additional explanation at the beginning of the FETs chapter, a constant-current circuit for electroplating the Ag/AgCl electrodes, and a few pieces of advice in the design report guidelines.

The chapter on design report guidelines is available free as a separate publication:
https://leanpub.com/design_report_guidelines

The minimum price is still $7.99, but I’m doing a special one-month coupon that lowers the price to $5.99, just for my loyal blog readers! One nice thing about selling through Leanpub is that purchasers get all future editions published through Leanpub as part of the price—the company is trying to encourage authors to publish book drafts through them, rather than waiting until the book is completely polished. That means that people who bought (even with free coupons) earlier versions of the book will get this release for free, and anyone who buys now will get the benefit of future releases. I will still provide coupons for free copies to instructors who are considering using the textbook for a course—contact me if you need a copy!

As before, I am still offering 25¢ rewards for the first report of each error (no matter how small) in the book.

I have recorded video lectures for the book. Playlists are at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQCrrTKnAE-97LcrJuUQ_5wKBFil8An9i for the first course and https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQCrrTKnAE–khjVV52ZWU_Usc3e6KV9J for the second course. The first playlist of 122 videos runs about 27:16 and the second playlist of 50 videos runs about 12 hours, so the average video length is under 14 minutes.

There may be one or two videos added and existing ones may be updated, but the set of lectures is essentially complete. Many still have only automatic closed captioning, but the captions will (slowly) get hand edited.

2020 September 11

Edition 1.1 released today!

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:49
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I finally released the new version of the textbook today!  (https://leanpub.com/applied_analog_electronics). The book is only slightly longer than the previous edition:

659 pages
337 figures
14 tables
515 index entries
162 references

The chapter on design report guidelines is available free as a separate publication:
https://leanpub.com/design_report_guidelines

At the same time as I released the new edition, I eliminated my COVID-19 sale, so the minimum price is now $7.99. I will still provide coupons for free copies to instructors who are considering using the textbook for a course.

I may have to do another version before January, as I have not checked the labs for BME 51A yet to see what modifications are needed for doing the labs at home. For example, I haven’t decided whether it is worth buying more blood-pressure cuffs and extra tubing, to have enough to ship one to everyone. I’ll probably have to give up on the drill-press instruction. I’d rather not skip the micrometer instruction, but that would mean buying a lot more micrometers, as we generally share 5 for the whole class.

One nice thing about selling through Leanpub is that purchasers get all future editions published through Leanpub as part of the price—the company is trying to encourage authors to publish book drafts through them, rather than waiting until the book is completely polished. That means that students who got earlier versions of the book will get this release for free, and anyone who buys now will get the benefit of future releases.

 

2020 September 2

Last to-do note in book cleared

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:01
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I finally cleared the last of the to-do notes from the draft of Applied Analog Electronics, only a couple of days behind my self-imposed deadline.  I still have to spell-check the whole book again, check for any missing cross-references, and check for overfull boxes.

I’m not going to check that the 211 URLs are all still ok (each one was ok at the time I added it).  I’ll have to rely on readers pointing out newly broken ones to me.  I wasted a couple of hours looking for tools that would to the job for me automatically, but all the ones I tried failed in various ways (outdated Python code that wouldn’t compile, misparsing URLs that worked just fine from clicking on the links on the pdf file, …).  If anyone knows of a cheap (preferably free) URL checker for PDF files that actually works, please let me know!

I expect to release a new version of the book within a week, at which time I’ll probably end my Covid-19 sale price.  People who buy before the new version comes out can get the current price and still get the new version when it is released.  One nice thing about selling through Leanpub is that purchasers get all future editions published through Leanpub as part of the price—the company is trying to encourage authors to publish book drafts through them, rather than waiting until the book is completely polished.

2018 December 16

I may be self-publishing forever

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:25
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Sigh, just as I’m finishing my textbook, I find out that publishers don’t want new textbooks. I did have one feeler from Springer, whose book prices are high and royalties low, and they wanted me to provide camera-ready copy. What were they going to do as publishers, other than keep almost all the money?

I have been self-publishing drafts of the text book in PDF format through LeanPub. I can sell the text for about $10 and make more money per book than if a publisher sold it for $80.  I have a new version that I tried to put up on LeanPub last Thursday, but I ran into a problem on their web site in changing the URL, and I’m waiting for them to fix it.  They were able to reproduce the problem and have told me that fixing it is a high priority, so I’ll probably be able to release the new version early this week (maybe 2018 Dec 17 or 18).

My big problem for the textbook is marketing (whether self-publishing or through traditional publishers)—how do textbook authors get other instructors aware of their book and willing to try it in a course?  Because my book takes a somewhat different approach to teaching electronics than the standard university course (which does about a year of applied math and circuits before doing any design), it isn’t a direct replacement for existing texts, but requires some redesign of curriculum.  That makes it an even harder sell, though I think that my design-early approach to teaching engineering is more in line with pedagogical research.

2018 April 22

Leanpub changing their pricing model again

Filed under: Circuits course,Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 09:50
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I’ve been publishing drafts of my book with Leanpub since August 2015, shortly after I first heard about them from Katrin Becker.  I took the chance with an unknown publisher largely because it cost me nothing, they took no rights to the book, and their e-book store had very generous royalties.

About  a year ago, they changed their pricing model for authors, so that there was a flat $99 fee for starting each new book, though existing books like mine were grandfathered in with no fee.

They just announced to authors another change in their pricing plan (though again, existing books are grandfathered in).  Now authors have a choice between a $99 flat fee per book or subscription plans of $8, $19, $29, or $59 a month, depending on how many books they have—the $8/month plan is for up to 3 books.  For the 32 months I’ve been with LeanPub, the new subscription pricing scheme would have cost me $256—much more than the $99 flat fee, which would have already been high enough for me to look elsewhere when I was starting.

The new subscription pricing scheme strikes me as a sucker’s deal, if you are really going to stick with a book long enough to complete the book and sell it. Unless you remove a book from Leanpub quickly (taking it to a traditional publisher, for example), the subscription fees add up fast.  Unless you are churning out books and moving them off Leanpub within 2–3 years, the $99 flat fee per book remains a better deal.

number of books months until flat fee cheaper
1 13
2 25
3 38
4 21
5 27
6 32
7 37
8 42
9 47
10 53
11 38
12 41
13 45
14 48
15 52
16 55

They do have some deals where earning sufficient royalties will provide the subscription for free, but I’m still a long way from the first breakpoint ($1000 in royalties), because I give away the book to students in my classes (235 free copies of the book vs. only 133 paid-for copies) and because I charge so little (the price is now $9.99 recommended, $4.99 minimum).  At that low price, my royalties are minimal.  I suppose that in another couple of years I’ll be up to the level that would unlock their standard plan, allowing me to do up to 3 more books without a subscription fee (unless they’ve raised their thresholds by then).

Of course, if I could get some other teacher to adopt my book for a course, my sales would go up substantially, but self-promotion has never been one of strong skills, and Leanpub provides no marketing.  Other than the authors of books on Leanpub and their students, no one knows about the website or looks for books there.

Leanpub has also changed the royalties they give, from 90%–50¢ to 80%.  For the lowest price they allow ($4.99), the royalties are the same either way, but for higher prices, they now take more (again, existing books are grandfathered in under the old agreement, though they are trying to induce authors to switch to the new royalty scheme with a not-very-exciting promotion scheme).  The new royalties are still much better than Amazon’s 35% for ebooks, but Amazon provides much more visibility for books.  Amazon does have a 70% royalty deal for ebooks in a very narrow price range.

I understand why Leanpub has been making changes to their business model—their initial pricing was a loss leader, to build up a sufficient clientele while they were developing their software for book publishing.  The main value they add (in their view) is their mark-up language for producing EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats from the same source, and most of their development costs have been for improving their mark-up language (first Leanpub-flavored Markdown and now Markua).

But I’m not using their mark-up language, because it is not really suited for the graph-heavy, math-heavy textbook I’m writing. I’m using LaTeX to produce PDF files directly.  I gave up on EPUB and MOBI, as they are not suitable formats for graph-heavy books, even though that locks me out of many of the e-book markets. I’m using Leanpub only for their storefront, for which their 10%+50¢ charge was quite reasonable, but increasing the charges to 20% and adding a $8/month subscription fee to that would make me think twice about staying with Leanpub, if they hadn’t grandfathered in the existing books.

2018 June 4: LeanPub has updated their pricing model again.  They now do 80% royalties (no grandfathering), but they have a free plan for people doing limited numbers of book updates per month.  Overall, it doesn’t affect me much (at the minimum price, the royalties were the same either way).  They’ll probably change the pricing again before anyone reads this note.

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