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2021 December 14

Which cover?

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:50
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My publisher has sent me 3 mock-ups of the cover for the book.  Which of them do you think will sell best?  (I know which one I like best, I think, but that is less important than how well the book will sell.)  I’ve converted their files to PNG for the blog—the real covers have much better resolution.

Peach-cover

Peach cover

Blue-cover

Blue cover

Brown-cover

Brown cover

2021 Dec 28: We’re going with the blue cover.

2021 December 2

Help needed with writing blurb

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 08:56
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I need to write a draft blurb for my textbook as part of the “promotional questionnaire”, and that is something I’ve always been bad at.  I’ve not been able to make the book sound as good as I think it is. Can anyone provide some suggestions?

Here is what I have so far:

2. Book Information

2.1. Describe the aims and scope of the book.

This textbook is for a first course on electronics. It assumes no prior electronics experience, but does assume that students have had calculus 1 (single-variable differential calculus) and high-school physics. A key idea of the course is that students need a lot of design experience and hands-on work, rather than a lot of theory. The course is centered around the labs, which are a mix of design labs and measurement/modeling labs.

The book is also intended for hobbyists and students on a limited budget to be able to learn from without a course. The inexpensive equipment needed is described in the Preface.

The book is intended to take students from knowing no electronics to being able to design and build amplifier and filter circuits for connecting sensors to microcontrollers within 20 weeks.  Students design a digital thermometer, a blood-pressure meter, an optical pulse monitor, an EKG, an audio preamplifier, and a class-D power amplifier.  They also learn how to measure and characterize components, including impedance spectroscopy of a loudspeaker and of electrochemical electrodes.

2.2 Explain why the book is important in the field or market. Feel free to elaborate on the value it can provide to the readers.

Many educators have seen the need for getting engineering students to do hands-on projects early in their education, but few textbooks exist to support ambitious projects with few prerequisites—most either develop foundational math and never get to design or assume that the foundations have already been covered in a previous course.  This book was deliberately written for a design-first approach, in which the design projects are the center of the course, with just-in-time teaching of concepts as they are needed for the projects.

The book focusses on three building-block concepts that are used over and over: voltage dividers, complex impedance, and negative-feedback amplifiers.  Despite the simplicity of these concepts, they provide powerful tools for doing design.

The book does not shy away from non-linear components, as it has students design a log-transimpedance amplifier for the optical pulse monitor and uses FETs as switches in the class-D power amplifier.

Although the book can certainly be used for teaching electrical engineering majors, it was aimed primarily at non-EE engineering majors (bioengineers).

2.3. Describe 3 key selling points of your book (e.g., how it differs from competing titles; unique treatment of certain topics; new edition/material; prominent authors or contributors).

  1. This book is centered around the design labs, rather than using labs just to illustrate concepts, the concepts are introduced just in time to support the work of the labs. Design is started right away, rather than building a lot of foundations with the usual empty promise that they will be useful “later”.
  2. The labs are mostly centered around the small amount of analog electronics needed for connecting sensors to computers and are chosen to appeal to a wide range of  engineering students, not just electrical engineers. In fact, bioengineering students were the primary audience for the first several years, and many labs are measuring heart function (blood pressure, optical pulse measurement, and EKG). The class-D power-amp lab also introduces H-bridges, which are a major concept for motor controllers and mechatronics.
  3. Three basic concepts (voltage dividers, complex impedance, and negative-feedback amplifiers) are used over and over in different ways, encouraging students to learn engineering as creative reuse of building blocks, rather than as memorizing piles of unrelated formulas.

2021 November 24

Contract signed with publisher!

Filed under: Circuits course,Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:31
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I’ve just signed a contract with World Scientific Publishing to publish my Applied Analog Electronics textbook.  They first contacted me on 2021 Oct 7 expressing an interest in the book, we met on Zoom on Oct 20, and they had a proposed contract to me by Oct 26, and we had a few back-and-forth rounds of negotiations.  The final contract was sent to me on Nov 19, I signed Nov 21, and they signed Nov 24. So the full process took about 48 days.

Here is the contract:

The most surprising thing in the contract is that they are continuing to let me sell the PDF through Leanpub (and my own web site, if I ever create one).  The royalties per book for Leanpub sales are higher than I’ll get from World Scientific Publishing, and the price will most likely be lower.

I did not use a lawyer in negotiating the contract—I contacted 4 lawyers who specialize in book contracts, but even the cheapest of them was too expensive, as I don’t really expect to make much money on this publishing deal.  I did use two online books:

Now I just have to get the 250MB of source files to the publisher and fill out the promotional questionnaire.  They may want me to make some small changes (like changing the title page).  When they are ready to publish, I’ll have to register the copyright also.

I’ll post here again when the book becomes available in paper.

2018 December 19

Textbook on sale

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:48
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My textbook is part of LeanPub’s special holiday sale.  For the rest of 2018, you can get it for only $4.99 (instead of the usual $5.99) with the coupon

http://leanpub.com/applied_analog_electronics/c/LeanpubHolidaySaleHoHoHo

Note: students in BME 51A should have gotten a coupon to get the textbook for free.

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.

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