Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Official

Principles of Molecular Virology Today, I officially start work on the fifth edition of The Book. I haven't actually signed the contract yet, but since academic publishers are people of honour, I have no doubts.

The Book has been good to me (and even better to the publisher). The Book goes back a long way (1993), and much has changed in that time. The way I write for one thing. When I wrote the first edition of The Book, the only other thing I ever wrote were formal academic papers. I can remember trying to establish a casual voice for the first edition, and at the time, I felt I had done a pretty good job. Now I mostly write online, and in a very different style. The reviewers for the fifth edition were happy to point this out.

The way students read has also changed. The Book needs a rewrite. Or does it? I've spent the last year pondering whether to revisit The Book, or just to move on. So why did I finally decide to invest a large slice of valuable time in a new edition? Because new media transforms rather than eliminates old media, and there's clearly still a demand for books. Sales of The Book have held up surprisingly well, and in many different languages. For many people, delivery of learning materials via social media doesn't cut it (yet). So there will be a new edition of The Book this year.

And after that?