I love this time of year. The leaves are starting to change into their fall motley, there’s a chill in the air, and the smell of wood smoke lingers like childhood memories. It’s also the time when Leo Laporte’s Technology Almanac typically tumbles from the presses to land with a thud on your bookstore shelves. Well, not this year, Jimbo.
My contract with Que has expired and it doesn’t look like either of us has much interest in resuscitating it. Que has been very patient with me. When we signed the deal I had two national US TV shows, a regular gig on Live with Regis and Kelly, and ample opportunity to flog my books. By the end of the contract we were lucky to get a plug on Good Morning Muncie. Needless to say, sales suffered. On the bright side, you should be able to find any one of my dozen titles in the remainder bin of your nearby five and dime, and at a very affordable price, too.
I’ve enjoyed my stint as an author — the sherry hours, the tweed coat with patched elbows, the bowlful of Borkum Riff, the love starved groupies, the 1.5% royalties — but all good things must come to an end. There won’t be a Technology Almanac in this year’s remainder bin. Your collection will have to end with the 2006 edition, the fifth and final installment in my magnum opus. Hey, that’s almost as many as Harry Potter.
If I do return to the publishing world it will be as a self-published author. I wouldn’t want anyone else to assume the burden that Que has suffered these past couple of years. Amber and I have talked about writing a book on podcasting. We even got as far as an outline and subversion repository, but then Citytv came up with a better offer and, to be honest, that book is now so far back on the burner that it’s getting chillblains.
It’s OK. This is all part of my transition from mainstream media maven to obscure Wikipedia entry. Writing books is hard work and, love starved groupies aside, the compensations are scant. I’ll put my energies into something I love to do, talking for a living, and leave the writing to my literary heroes, Bill O’Reilly and Ed McMahon.
So thanks to all of you who bought my books. Perhaps we can gather someday at a local Denny’s and reminisce. An even bigger thanks to the many, many more who put up with my endless plugging and still managed to resist the urge to buy. Never again will you have to hear, “buy my book,” unless you happening to be watching the O’Reilly Factor. And if you are, you’re getting what you deserve.
I’ve just received my author’s copies of Leo Laporte’s Guide to TiVo and I must humbly say it’s the best Tivo book ever. All credit to Gareth Branwyn who knocked himself out writing it, Rick Kughen, my editor at Que who polished it to a gleaming shine, and the guys at Weaknees.com who gave us outstanding support all along the way.
This is the book that should come with every Tivo sold.
I‘ve been re-reading George Gilder’s fascinating Telecosm and I came across this telling anecdote about focus groups.
In 1980 when Bob Metcalfe, inventer of Ethernet, came to pitch the industrial megacorporation General Electric on behalf of his fledgling company 3COM, GE executives explained that they had done considerable research on the new personal computer and networking industries. In focus groups composed of GE customers held all over the country, executives were told over and over that there was no consumer interest in personal computers. PCs, the focus groups said, only were of interest to businesses. And the same could be said for networking.
The GE execs came to the conclusion that there was no home PC market, and never would be. They decided to stick with refrigerators, nuclear reactors, and light bulbs, and to this day the company has never touched in personal computing or networking thereby missing the fastest growing businesses in the past 20 years.
Patrick and I are having a blast, as usual, meeting fans at the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta. We stayed four hours signing autographs with Michaela Pereira. I’m told we met 273 people. We usually get to more but we took our time today. We’ll have to work a little faster tomorrow; we both have planes to catch so we’ll be leaving at 3p sharp. Come early – they’ll probably cut off the line by 2pm.
I needed a little escapism after watching the Giants season end so suddenly this afternoon. Fortunately, Patrick and I had picked up copies of Neal Stephenson’s newest book, Quicksilver, at the airport bookstore. We were both big fans of Snow Crash and Stephenson’s last, Cryptonomicon, and couldn’t wait to get our hands on this one.
It’s very good, but very different from Neal’s previous works. It’s definitely not sci-fi. So far it takes place in the time span between 1655 and 1713 and deals with the birth of modern science. We meet Ben Franklin and Isaac Newton as children and see the earliest days of the “Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technologickal Arts,” already home to investigations of computing machinery and far in advance of its neighbor, Harvard College, whose dons are still stuck in the scholasticism of the Dark Ages. We also meet the author of the original Cryptonomicon. But that’s only in the first hundred or so pages. I’ve still got 800 pages to go, and it’s just the first book in the three-volume “Baroque Cycle,” so who knows where we’ll end up. So far it’s a great read, though, and best of all… there wasn’t any baseball in the 18th century.
I just received word from Peachpit that the rebound 2004 Almanac will be released on Wednesday, October 1st.
The Amazon listing should return today and they should be shipping by next Monday. Phew!
My buddy Alex Wellen’s book, Barman, is out, and it’s a peach. Sexy, funny, and a great read.
Alex will be doing a reading at Cody’s on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, 7:30 tonight. I’m going to have to miss that one, but Megan and I plan to attend his reading Wednesday at 7:00p at Book Passage in Corte Madera. See you there?
Amazon.com has, for some reason, removed the listing for the 2004 Alamanac.
For a while I even had the URL amazon.com/leo. No longer. I feel so empty.
I’ve been re-reading George Gilder’s brilliant Telecosm and I came across this telling anecdote about focus groups.
In 1980 when Bob Metcalfe, inventer of ethernet, came to the industrial megacorporation General Electric on behalf of his fledgling company 3COM, the GE executives explained that they had done considerable research on the new personal computer and networking industries. In focus groups composed of GE customers held all over the country, executives were told over and over that there was no consumer interest in personal computers. PCs, the focus groups said, only were of interest to businesses. And the same could be said for networking. The was no home PC market, and never would be.
General Electric decided to stick with refrigerators, nuclear reactors, and light bulbs, and to this day has never dabbled in personal computing or networking.
In one week my book will go into its second printing. That’s a good thing; it means we’ve sold out the first printing of 50,000 copies. It also means I can correct any typos or errors in the first edition.
Laura and I have been going through it, and we’ve found some errors. If you’ve found any yourself, please let me know. Send me an email or add a comment to this blog entry. No error is too small to ignore – I want to make the second edition perfect!
I’ll send a Leoville mug and t-shirt to the person who finds the most errors.
Thanks for your help!
I’m already thinking of ways we can make it better next year. And how I can get back on Regis to plug it!