Day: February 20, 2007

Misallocation of resources

Recently, I was at the library flipping through a copy of a book titled Bitter Java (which is about the language, not the drink), and glanced at the copyright date to get an idea of how out-of-date the book was, the library being full of useful programming books like Java 2 For Dummies and Programming Macros for Excel 5.

The book was copyright 2002, which means that it may be of some use, because it’s a book of lessons learned, rather than a development guide to the state-of-the-art, but what really caught my eye was this:

Recognizing the importance of preserving what has been written, it is Manning’s policy to have the books they publish printed on acid-free paper, and we exert our best efforts to that end.

Of all the things to print on acid-free paper. A programming book.

Realistically, programming books should be printed on the same wood chip-infested stock used for comic books; comics probably have a longer shelf life on average.

As a matter of fact, I’d appreciate programming books that disintegrated into compost on their own within five years of purchase. My programming library is full of crud pertaining to Visual Basic 6 and CL for the AS/400. Unfortunately, they’re books, which means that they can’t just be thrown away, and they’re also obsolete, which means that they can’t be given away. The last thing I need is for publishers to try to ensure the things are still around for my kids to dispose of.