The Mess of a Second Edition Book

Venture Deals: 2nd EditionThe Second Edition of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist just started shipping. It’s new and improved, fixes a bunch of little mistakes that we listed on the Ask the VC site, and adds a chapter on Convertible Debt which builds on the posts on Ask the VC. I’m happy it’s out, but really annoyed by the mess that is created by the second edition.

Before I bash Amazon and the traditional publishing industry, I want to give Amazon some love. I bought a Kindle Paperwhite 3G a month ago. Every time a new Kindle comes out, I buy it. After struggling to like the Kindle Fire HD, which now sits dormant in my laptop bag, I am absolutely in love with the Kindle Paperwhite– it’s stunningly good for a high volume reader like me.

Ok – back to the mess of a second edition. Writing the second edition is pretty easy – you get the final Microsoft Word files from the publisher. I would have loved to fix the mistakes earlier in the ebook, but that wasn’t part of the process. So Jason and I just tossed up an Errata page on the website and pointed people at it when they found a new, or old, mistake. We wrote the new sections (the chapter on convertible debt and a few appendices), fixed some other stuff we felt could be improved, and sent it back in to the publisher.

Given the success that we’ve had in academic settings, where Venture Deals is now being used by over 100 undergraduate and graduated courses as a textbook, we also created a teaching guide. Jason and Brad Bernthal wrote this as a completely separate book which we expected would be published. Instead, it’s ends up being on Wiley’s Instructor Companion Site which I just spent 10 minutes trying to get a login for an failed (grrrr). In addition, we are now working on an Inkling edition version of it which is desynchronized from the release of the book – mostly due to miscommunication about what was required to create it.

The normal copy-edit production loop ensued that I’m now used to. Jason and Brad Bernthal submitted the teaching guide separately – the first pass of the copy-edit loop happened, but had more gear grinding as we struggled to understand what was actually going to be produced. We eventually figured it out and everyone ended up happy. Then we got the new cover designs since apparently a second edition gets a new cover design. We are going to put this into the Startup Revolution series so it’s got the little Startup Revolution logo on it.

A few weeks ago I noticed that Amazon had Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist (2nd Edition) available for pre-order. I was perplexed that it was an entirely new page on Amazon with a different ISDN number. None of the 123 reviews moved over with it and the work we put into the page for the first edition was gone. I checked with Wiley on this and quickly found out that Amazon considers 2nd Editions to be completely new books.

So – here I sit on 12/29 with a new Amazon pages for the 2nd Edition in physical and Kindle form, excitingly with zero reviews on a book that has a 4.8 of 5.0 on 123 reviews, light weight Amazon pages, and no access or links to the Instructor Companion Site. Remember, writing these books is a hobby for me, not my full time role in the world, so when I see this I immediately think “there must be a better way.”

In this case, I’m perplexed by Amazon. It seems like they should be focused on making this stuff awesome from a user perspective and and author perspective. Even if there is a new ISBN number, wouldn’t it be so much better to have Venture Deals all connected together, with all the history, made beautiful and awesome for everyone involved? Who cares that the traditional publishing industry has a new ISBN number for 2nd Editions – end users don’t really care about this. And authors who want to spend all of their time writing and as little time as possible fighting with this crap must want to blow their brains out when this happens.

Fortunately, all of this amuses me. I enjoy the people at Wiley I work with – they are working their butts off on many different fronts to be successful. They are dealing with a complex environment that is changing quickly on them. And they are working as hard as they can to stay relevant in this environment. I respect them a lot for this. But it’s still a completely mess.

  • “So – here I sit on 12/29 broken-hearted, came to…”

    well, you know the rest.

  • Brad, it’s not true that second editions are considered to be unique books by Amazon.

    As a self-published author, I can go in and either: 1) update the text for an existing edition, and have it be completely transparent that the content was revised, or 2) update the content and mark it as a new edition, in which case it replaces the existing edition, but remains on the same page.

    I think the case here probably has more to do with Wiley’s operational processes than limitations with Amazon.

    Either way, I hear your frustration. Sorry!

    • Man – that’s especially frustrating. I pushed hard with Wiley not to have this be separate. I guess I need to keep pushing.

    • It’s a mixed bag. I’ve published many different ways. William is right – in some instances, individuals have more power. Yet, only “approved” publishers at present can get book trailers front and center on book pages.

  • it is amusing in a way but it is a very ineffective approach to publishing second editions. I am sure your new edition will garner a few positive reviews soon 🙂

    • Per @twitter-14963856:disqus note, it looks like I need to push harder on this.

  • @FakeBradFeld

    How does Kindle pricing work? Are publishers forced to price the e-version to be nearly the same as the paper version? Thanks.

    • No clue. Pricing is a total mystery to me.

    • No, publishers have discretion.

  • If we posted a review of the first edition, can we copy/paste it into the second?

    I’m likely not the only one who has experienced that the book has gotten better with time. (And, you and Jason get fewer emails from me as a result…)

    • Sure! But, more importantly, I’m going to try to figure out how to eliminate this mess!

      • May the force be with you as you figure out how to eliminate this mess. You will be helping many, many people. Keep us posted. Thanks.

        • I have found away around some of the challenges of traditional publishing, but it’s still not a perfect process. Amazon could certainly do better on many levels, but people at the company probably would contend that there are far too many books to handle things like this. Hogwash, I say. If we can put a man on the moon…

          • When was the last time we put a man on the moon? Sorry – I couldn’t help myself.

          • Jeffrey Hartmann

            *And now for something completely off topic*
            I’ll bite, lets go completely off on a tangent…

            This is completely criminal, we could so be in colonization mode right now. Not sure if you know much about the work of Freeman Dyson and Ted Taylor around the Orion project, but it was a dream during the late 50’s that we could put significantly large infrastructure into space (think submarine, aircraft carrier, or event city sized spacecraft) using pulsed nuclear propulsion. If we would have launched one with industrial infrastructure, we would have opened up space. While maybe the design wasn’t perfect, there was and is so much potential to do things like this we just lack the will for big ideas anymore. I don’t remember the exact details, but I think Freeman Dyson was on an airplane near the end of the project and asked several people if they would be willing to pay something like 5 or 10 dollars on their taxes to support the project. When we break down the costs of big dreams at that level, and take it to the people there is always support. Unfortunately we let things get mired in bureaucracy and politics, when it is really simple decision. At the single taxpayer level the aggregate cost is small for these big idea projects and their potential for benefit enormous. Don’t even get me started on how stupid the energy situation is either, its equally abysmal and we knew how to solve it well 40 years ago. Look up the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment or ammonia fuel cell powered automobiles, another set of good technology we abandoned completely for political reasons.

            This is just some examples of stuff we could or should have done, and only lacked the will to put design into reality. While one could argue the wisdom of the above designs, or where projects like Orion could have eventually lead us. (Pure fusion nuclear weapons potentially, ekk) That is not my point here though. We have so many smart people who can make the world better, we need to collectively stand by them and support them in any way we can. Perhaps when the machines have taken over more completely they can make these easy decisions for us for the betterment of all.

          • Awesome tangent. And yes – my guess is we have to wait for the machines to take over.

        • I will need the force, that’s for sure.

  • I wonder if the reason Wiley did a second release completely different from the first versus just updating the first has to do with how bad Kindle’s are at handling new releases. I believe if I got an update to your book it would overwrite the first book, including highlighting and notes that I had taken. Better to release a separate second edition, I’d think.

    • Interesting. Possibly. I’m going to dig in a lot deeper next week, especially on the hardback book.

      • Please write about it. I’m curious what you find out.

        • agreed – please let us know what you find out

  • sbell22

    Don’t sweat it, Brad – it will all work out because it’s a great book!

  • It would also make sense for ebooks to have upgrade pricing. Would actually make a ton of money for publishers and Amazon. Not many owners of 1st edition will by 2nd at full price, but at 10-20% many would.

  • dvasefi

    I was looking at placing the order and the fact there were no reviews was perplexing, turns out I was looking at the 2nd edition page Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist (2nd Edition). The name does not say it’s second ed. but the book cover image does and no mention of pre-order, so it’s pretty confusing what you’re ordering as of now.

    Amazon should do a better job of managing multiple versions of books. I’m sure the 2nd ed. will get great reviews but feel your frustration of having to go thru the process all over again…

    • Yup – perfect example of what I’m worried about. I’m going to try to bust through the wall of insanity around this over the next week.

  • Yup…been there too. The industry lives and dies by the ISBN #. Different # means different book, but they ought to find a way to link editions together!

  • was gonna suggest that you need one of those amazon author pages that would list all your books …then i found yours and low and behold the 2nd edition wasnt there! oops..

    • Hah! That’s awesome that the 2nd Edition didn’t automatically show up on the Author Page. What a mess. Fixing that now.

      • its amazing how some companies can be both awesome and maddening at the same time… amazon appears to be in this camp.

        Is it a function of the number of products a company builds? ..or some lack of clarity about who the customer for a particular product is as a company gets really big.

        • I wish I knew. Amazon is a cypher on this front.

  • Hey Brad. A LITTLE off topic here, but, for reading a lot as well, I have found the iPad mini to be an excellent reader. Yeah, I know it can’t compare outside, but, for what you gain in multimedia ability with books, it’s worth it. I find more and more books, specifically produced for Kindle software on multimedia capable devices. For instance Gary Vaynerchuk’s book has a special multimedia edition just for the Kindle software and not the device. I’m sure you could do well with a multimedia enhanced version of some of your books with videos maybe explaining or digging deeper into a specific topic. 😉

    If you haven’t yet, give the mini a try. You may be pleasantly surprised. BTW: No, I do NOT work for Apple. 😉

    • I haven’t played with a Mini yet but sounds like I need to get one.

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