Okay, I changed my mind, I wrote a book after all


Back in 2003, I wrote that I’m doing this instead of writing a book. That was true then, but last year I decided to give this book thing another go, only to find that publishers generally aren’t interested in this stuff any more.

“Does the world really need another book on Win32? Nobody buys Win32 books any more, that dinosaur!”

“A conversational style book? People want books with step-by-step how-to’s and comprehensive treatments, not water cooler anecdotes!”

“Just 200 pages? There isn’t enough of an audience for a book that small!”

Luckily, I found a sympathetic ear from the folks at Addison-Wesley Professional who were willing to take a chance on my unorthodox proposal. But I caved on the length, bringing it up to 500 pages. Actually, I came up with more like 700 pages of stuff, and they cut it back to 500, because 700 pages would take the book into the next price tier, and “There isn’t enough of an audience for a book that big!”

Eighteen months later, we have The Old New Thing: Practical Development Throughout the Evolution of Windows, following in what appears to be the current fad of giving your book a title of the form Catchy Phrase: Longer Explanation of What the Catchy Phrase Means.

It’s a selection of entries from this blog, loosely organized, and with new material sprinkled in. There are also new chapters that go in depth into parts of Win32 you use every day but may not fully understand (the dialog manager, window messages), plus a chapter dedicated to Taxes. (For some reason, the Table of Contents on the book web site is incomplete.)

Oh, and those 200 pages that got cut? They’ll be made available for download as “bonus chapters”. (The bonus chapters aren’t up yet, so don’t all rush over there looking for them.)

The nominal release date for the book is January 2007, which is roughly in agreement with the book web site which proclaims availability on December 29th. Just in time for Christmas your favorite geek, if your favorite geek can’t read a calendar.

Now I get to see how many people were lying when they said, “If you wrote a book based on this blog, I’d buy it.”

(Update: The bonus chapters are now available.)

(Update: Now available in Japanese! ISBN 978-4756150004.)

(Update: Now available in Chinese! ISBN 7111219194.)

Comments (97)
  1. pcooper says:

    You mean, "back in 2003", right?

  2. J. Edward Sanchez says:

    This book has been on my wish list at my online bookstore for several months now. I’m really looking forward to it.

    Congratulations on the book, and on a fantastic blog!

  3. Scott says:

    How big is the book?  My book purchases are based on whether or not I can read the book while in bed.  The large size computer books are too big for that.

  4. Joy says:

    Go Raymond!  We knew you could do it!

  5. Tom says:

    If only it were available before Christmas, it would be on my list.  Wait a minute… Maybe I can get someone to pre-order it as a gift and have it delivered next year.  Yeah… That’s not a bad idea!

  6. Rob says:

    Now I know what to get with the inevitable Amazon gift certificate.

  7. Jeff says:

    Just pre-ordered my copy. Thanks for writing this!

  8. Allan Nelson says:

    Preordered at Amazon.  Thanks for the blog

  9. kiwiblue says:

    What’s the amount of new, sprinkled-in material? That’s the deciding factor for me.

  10. Joke says:

    Okay, I changed my mind, I don’t want to buy a book based on this blog.

  11. J says:

    I’ll buy it only if there are Bob anecdotes.

  12. richard says:

    I hate fat books – I try to chew through 2 or 3 books a week. I can’t do that if they are 700+ pages long (or more like 1500+ for programming books – it seems).

    I love 200 page books, they are the ideal length – easily read in an evening (or two if they are crammed with info). Tell your publisher that there are readers who eschew the heavy tomes for thinner fare. In the late 70s, I noticed books started getting fatter. I hated it and always looked for (and continue to look for) books around 200 pages.

    I would be happier to buy the book as two 200-250 page volumes than a single 500 page volume. Imagine if Knuth wrote The Art of Computer Programming today – I am sure the publisher would insist on the first three volumes being bound as a single fat volume.

    I’ll probably buy it, but tell your publisher that thinner is better.

  13. James Bray says:

    Pre-ordered. Roll on January :-)

  14. BOFH says:

    At least you might make christmas in the eastern orthodox countries where holidays still operate on the Julian calendar.

    The books sounds intriguing, I’ll admit it…

    Can it be bought in electronic form, either as PDF or CHM?

    [I don’t know, but I suspect it’ll follow the pattern of other AW books and show up on Safari. -Raymond]
  15. Dan McCarty says:

    Nice job, Raymond.  I hope that the book does very well for you!

    But we have to know: does the book contain any line art or images?

    I KID I KID!  :P

  16. Matt Davis says:

    Excellent- pre-order complete!

  17. Stefan Kuhr says:

    Great thing for sure. I preordered it and I am really curious what I will get in January. Keep on the good work. Raymond, does this have anything to do with your May 2006 posting “Raymond makes a psychic prediction for 2006″? Or has this riddle already been solved meanwhile and I just didn’t notice?

    [I wonder if people actually read my stuff before commenting. “I will post the actual prediction at the end of the year,” it says right at the top. -Raymond]
  18. Cody says:

    “But we have to know: does the book contain any line art or images?”

    And do they render properly?  ;)

    [Screenshots in books suck since paper is much higher resolution than the screen. The line art came out okay though. -Raymond]
  19. Fox Cutter says:

    Preordered. :)

  20. TimMisiak says:

    Hurray! Pre-ordering now!

  21. benjamin says:

    Man, $50 for a paperback? On one hand, it’s Raymond, on another, $50.

    Decisions, decisions.

    [It says $40 for me. Or maybe you’re including tax and shipping? Just imagine how much more the 700-page book would’ve cost. -Raymond]
  22. typoo says:

    Only 26 bucks at Bookpool……

  23. me says:

    I’m glad you too have noticed the title fad; it’s irked me for years.

  24. Cool!  What can I say, I preordered too. :>

  25. Pointy says:

    Quick question Raymond: is most of the material rehashed (and perhaps expanded) from the blog, or is there a lot of stuff you’ve not written about here?  Asking because I’m kind of poor at the moment…

    [It’s about 1/6 new, 5/6 old (but the old stuff is better-written now). -Raymond]
  26. Anonymous coward says:

    Who are the guis who completly read 500-700 pages technical books? Those are hard, you have to put the book down and think for a few minutes all the time. On those kind of books I usually get arround by skipping stuff or I never finish it.

    Do they really need a 500 page book or they evaluate a book like a supermarket meat packet?

    Sorry Raymond, I know that this post should be a kind of annyversary moment.

  27. pre-ordered

    …and according to Addison-Wesley my book will be shipping on 12/08!

    I quote

    "If you submit your order now it should ship on 12/08/2006."

    whooohoo!!

  28. Okay, I changed my mind, I wrote a book after all Back in 1993, I wrote that I’m doing this instead of

  29. Carlos says:

    It’s $55 here in the UK :(

    I hope that translates into extra royalties.

    [Nope, it translates into less. -Raymond]
  30. gm says:

    pre-ordered!

    And mine is "shipping" on the 7th.

    -garret

  31. Bob (no relation) says:

    Not preordered, but I’m definitely picking one up after the holidays. Heck, I’d buy it just to know all the "taxes" my group’s apps don’t pay!

  32. Steve says:

    Preordered – now you can start on a book of the Win95 stories ;)

  33. OK… It’s not a super-duper juicy revelation, but it’s exciting to me. Raymond Chen has finally gone

  34. JenK says:

    Doing any signings?  Third Place or U Bookstore might be interested.  

    (I bet the company store gets requests to carry it ;)

  35. JamesNT says:

    Mr. Chen,

    You will be pleased to know that I pre-ordered your book at Amazon.com on Sept. 23 of this year.

    James

  36. sherriman says:

    I usually don’t post "me too" comments, but I just ordered the book too.

  37. "Now I get to see how many people were lying when they said, "If you wrote a book based on this blog, I’d buy it.""

    I never said that. Although I might buy it anyway.

  38. Cooney says:

    [It says $40 for me. Or maybe you’re including tax and shipping? Just imagine how much more the 700-page book would’ve cost. -Raymond]

    How’s that work? Every -huge- book I’ve bought hs been an awful waste of space to the point where I don’t buy them any more. Of course, those were SAMS books.

    Anyway, if it’s $40, why not hardcover?

    [Um, because if it were hardcover it wouldn’t be $40? -Raymond]
  39. Ben Cooke says:

    I’d have pre-ordered it right off the bat if I hadn’t just bought a load of books only yesterday. I’ll try to remember to buy it a bit closer to release. (I’m sure you’ll post about it in your blog again in the mean time, anyway. :) )

    For those UK folk who are interested, Amazon.co.uk has the book on pre-order for £27.54.

  40. Mihai says:

    Just preordered it at Amazon :-)

  41. Mike Dunn says:

    ~!

  42. Amanjit Gill says:

    Preordered @ amazon.

    GO, GO, GO :-)

  43. Daniel says:

    Any ETA on the German and Swedish editions? :-)

  44. Calin Iaru says:

    Hi Raymond,

     hartly congratulations for writing this book. I have been reading your blog regularly. Do you know if others area about to write the talk? Perhaps Larry Osterman, Doron Holan or Rob Short.

  45. WikiServerGuy says:

    1993? Erm, 2003 right ;) (if there was a blog 12 years ago from you I’d like to know about it! :D)

    Maybe I missed something…

  46. I’m not going to lie to you: I’m looking forward to this book for many years now!

  47. BrianK says:

    Wow – $39.99. I’d love to read it, but that’s a little steep. May have to wait until there are some used ones out there. Anybody want to sell theirs around Feb 07? Why do technical books cost so much?

    Brian

  48. Igor Delovski says:

    Done!

    My order at Amazon:

    1. ATL Internals Paperback by Brent E. Rector

    2. Quartz 2D Graphics for Mac OS X… Paperback by R. Scott Thompson

    3. The Old New Thing: Practical… Paperback by Raymond Chen

  49. b says:

    Pre-ordered, looking forward to it!  I’ve always wanted a copy of this blog that I could sit and read off-line.  

    Out of curiosity (I couldn’t glean this from the info or I didn’t read hard enough), did you include any comments or your comment responses at all?

    [Part of what made it “better-written” was incorporating feedback from comments. -Raymond]
  50. Stefan Kuhr says:

    “I wonder if people actually read my stuff before commenting. “I will post the actual prediction at the end of the year,” it says right at the top”

    Raymond, I know you wrote this. But you somehow managed to challenge everyone to guess what it is. Or do you have a number of generated predictions that will all have the same hash and on 12/31/2006 you will chose the most appropriate one? Did anybody find out what it is, did I miss something? I sometimes miss some of your blogposts or readers’ comments. So why shouldn’t it be “I wrote a book this year”?

    [Please read the article again. That’s all I’m going to say. -Raymond]
  51. Ben Combee says:

    Very cool!  I’ve added this to my wishlist on Amazon, and if no one pre-orders it for me for Christmas, I’ll pick it up in January.

  52. KTamas says:

    $25 to get it shipped to Hungary. Gotta start savin’ for some Win32 bedtime stories.

  53. BryanK says:

    I won’t preorder it now, but I will be checking in from time to time to see when it gets released, and I’ll likely order it then.  (Along with that book on quantum mechanics that I’ve been meaning to read…)

  54. Brian says:

    [Nope, it translates into less. -Raymond]

    http://www.crystalreportsbook.com/SelfPublishing_02.asp

    Holy cow, according to that site, most books sell 5,000 copies!  If we only sold 5,000 copies of our software, we’d go bankrupt.  Heck, we consider it a failure if it only sells 500,000.

    Raymond, I hope you sell more than 5,000 copies of your book.  I’ll help by buying one.

    You couldn’t get Microsoft Press to publish it?

  55. Stefan Kuhr says:

    “Please read the article again. That’s all I’m going to say”

    Hhm, you wrote “Revealing my prediction now may influence the event itself”. This is most probably not true for “I wrote a book this year”. I will eagerly await the end of the year.

    [I tried twice to end this thread. Please let it die. -Raymond]
  56. OPC Diary says:

    The Old New Thing : Okay, I changed my m…

  57. James says:

    "Or do you have a number of generated predictions that will all have the same hash and on 12/31/2006 you will chose the most appropriate one?"

    Very unlikely – generating hash collisions is difficult, unless your hash function isn’t any good. Since Raymond posted both MD5 and SHA1 hashes, the chances Raymond – or anyone else – could find even two predictions which collided in both functions are extremely slim indeed.

  58. Jonathan Rascher says:

    Awesome! I know what I want for Christmas. :)

    PS: It’s only $31.99 at Barnes & Noble ($28.79 for members), with free shipping.

  59. Kelly says:

    This is great news.  Any word from the publisher if the book will be available an an e-text format?

  60. Jonathan Wilson says:

    Now this sounds like a book I would get use out of.

    All I gotta do is find someone who will sell it to me here in australia :)

  61. Igor says:

    Congratulations Raymond. I can’t wait to read your book.

  62. "If only it were available before Christmas, it would be on my list."

    There are some seventh graders that might have some ideas about how to accomplish that.

    PMP

  63. Stephen says:

     If/when the book’s "hot time" ends, try to buy the remainders, like Harlan Ellison does, then you can sell personally autographed copies for full price at talks and conventions.  

  64. Sean W. says:

    Awesome.  Truly awesome.  *goes off to Amazon to pre-order…*

  65. Congratulations on the book Raymond, I hope it does great. The whole book publishing process seems quite blokely, so I don’t think anyone will accuse you of "publishing like a girl" :)

  66. Andy C says:

    Preordered on Amazon. Looking forward to the new year.

  67. Congratulations on the book.

    I’m really pleased to hear you’ve penned down your knowledge for us to read in our own time.

    Although, I’m sorry to say, I probably won’t buy the book. I love reading your blog for insight into non-Wind32 issues (e.g. when you should use bloon notifications on icons in the Notification Area). Sometimes I have no idea what your talking about when you do Win32 stuff, but I try and understand it as somethings are in some way vaguely relevant (hey, .NET boils down to Win32 api calls).

    I just wanted to say Congratulations and keep upp all the good work.

  68. Norman Diamond says:

    Nobody buys Win32 books any more, that

    dinosaur!"

    Yeah, because used ones cost tons more than they did new.  Some of the prices are as big as dinosaurs.  Oh yeah, here’s another use for that time machine.

    It’s about 1/6 new, 5/6 old

    And 6/6 old new.

    I tried twice to end this thread. Please let

    it die.

    Too bad you can’t do anything about it, it’s stuck in kernel mode and it’s not your fault.

  69. Yuvi says:

    I’ld sell my soul to buy it…

  70. Lorenzo says:

    Just preordered! Thank you, Raymond!

    Pingback: http://www.loz.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=6

  71. bw says:

    I would buy this 700 pages book without blinking an eye!

    :(((((((((((((((((((((

  72. Yuvi says:

    I’d sell my soul to buy it…

    Any takers?

  73. Michael says:

    Excellent! I’m really going to buy this one

  74. Jeff Stong says:

    One of my favorite blogs is now a book. A lot can be learned by understanding…

  75. Michael Puff says:

    Will there be a German edition? Maybe translated by the author himself? ;)

  76. JD says:

    You want to use this URL

    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2006/12/07/1233002.aspx#1233622

    to point to Eber’s comment. Your current url is incorrect.

    And congratulations on your book, I will be buying it when it releases! :)

    JD

  77. Cooney says:

    [Um, because if it were hardcover it wouldn’t be $40? -Raymond]

    why’s that? The production cost is about the same.

    [Whether that’s true or not, bookstores certainly charge more for the hardcover. -Raymond]
  78. orcmid says:

    Amazon has it for pre-order, with a publication date of December 29.

    We’ll see if it arrives sooner.

    I can’t wait to find out why you press the Start button to do a Shutdown.

    Thanks, I’m going to love this.

  79. Lorenzo says:

    "I can’t wait to find out why you press the Start button to do a Shutdown."

    Because, even to shutdown the system, you have to start from somewhere…

  80. Maurits says:

    bookstores certainly charge more for the hardcover

    Market segmentation.

  81. Edge says:

    Pre-ordered from Bookpool. Congrats Raymond. =)

  82. Come da suo post. A detta dell’autore (si deduce anche da una prima occhiata alla TOC): It’s a selection…

  83. demattel says:

    Preordered at Amazon. Thank you!

  84. Thanks to Lilia Efimova , I saw Raymond Chen's news of a book he's publishing in Jan, 2007: 'Old

  85. ArC says:

    Ah, if only you’d actually titled the book "Catchy Phrase: Longer Explanation of What the Catchy Phrase Means"!

  86. Sarath says:

    Hi Raymond,

    I was a bit late to check the blog.

    Whatever be the size of the book I’ll definitely buy one. This one which I’ve been waiting for..

    thanks alot for writing on such an interesting topic like win32. Hope your scratch program too be there in the new book :)

  87. suren says:

    Raymond:

    I look forward to read your book. You should keep the title as Win3(2.0) in this web 2.0 age or May be Win32 "Live" to cath up with MS Live strategy :)

  88. Mr. Ed says:

    How much of the book is in Swedish?

  89. Roger says:

    Raymond wrote: "the current fad of giving your book a title of the form Catchy Phrase: Longer Explanation of What the Catchy Phrase Means."

    This fad may have had a "current" resurgence, but I hope you didn’t mean to imply it was a new phenomenon. Just look at the titles of technical books from the 16th and 17th centuries.

  90. Raymond Chen l’auteur d’un de mes blogs techniques préférés (bien que traitant de Win32) The Old New

  91. cardcover says:

    Where can I order the hardcover? isbn?

  92. David Kline says:

    I know I’m a little late on this one… During the recent Seattle area snow event , I was able to get

  93. You have to accept this stuff now.

  94. Come da suo post . A detta dell’autore (si deduce anche da una prima occhiata alla TOC ): It’s a selection

  95. Because "Sort according to the default sort order for the column whose title is… Name" is too long.

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