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Doesn't Anybody Read Anymore?
bizzychicken
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 06:15 AM UTC

Quoted Text


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Hi Bill,
I have to agree with Tom.I'm no spring chicken, my grandfather and father were in WW1 and WW11. I've done Shermans,Panzers,etc.since a kid and back when I started again as an adult.My focus changed when there became more Viet Nam kits.As a teenager this is the war I new and watched.Now it's Iraq and Afganistan.With a new generation coming up the hobby will pass to them and that's what they will recall.I have posted a few times before that if I see 1 more Tiger release I think I'll get sick.As Tom mentioned I will check a review and if it's German I'll go straight to the back button.(unless it's modern).
Tom

There alot of Great new books on German subjects. Its not all Tigers and Panthers. I think its great that alot of German written manuscripts are being published in English. I agree that not enough Allied books are being published and dont know what the answer is. People interested in the German's are not reading just about TIGERS.
Hederstierna
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 08:27 AM UTC
Hi Bill
First of all, thank you very much for the great reviews, they are very useful for me. I have been circling around that Panther book for a while now, but after reading your review, I'm now going to order it. Hey, wait a minute, did I just thank you for making me spend my hard earned cash
Keep up the good work, Bill.
Jacob
bill_c
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 08:38 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Hi Bill
First of all, thank you very much for the great reviews, they are very useful for me.


Thank you, Jacob, this thread has energized me, and I will keep doing book reviews, but with more verve and enthusiasm.

Quoted Text

I have been circling around that Panther book for a while now, but after reading your review, I'm now going to order it. Hey, wait a minute, did I just thank you for making me spend my hard earned cash


Yes, I'm afraid I did, but you won't regret it. The book is better IMO than the diorama how-to books I have seen. These guys are the titans of our hobby, freely giving information they don't have to about how they built a particular kit and dio-ed it.

Geraint, thank you as well for your encouragement. I appreciate it that kits are sexier than books for most members here; I just hope that more modelers will trade in a new kit for their stash on a book that will either inspire them or make their builds more accurate-- or both.

And regarding the charge that the hobby is evolving, that's quite true, and we are reviewing the books that come out on modern armor. Thanks especially to Tankograd, who publishes a fine series on modern vehicles and sends us all their latest titles (I don't review them because it's not my area of familiarity). Could there be more books about modern armor? Sure, but right now we can only review the books we receive. If there are books we're not reviewing that anyone thinks should be, please let us know. Or even better: review them yourselves! We're always looking for new blood in the reviewing department.
spetsnazgru
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Lebanon
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 09:45 AM UTC
oh no Bill, Im a "heavy" reader (actually Im reading 3 books these days, Zinky boys: Soviet voices from the Afghanistan War, Fearful Majesty: the life and reign of Ivan the terrible and a book in Arabic about Rasputin, yeah im into Russian History), thank you for your time and effort, I decided to get the Panther and AAVP books after reading your reviews.
mmeier
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 10:25 AM UTC
Bill: I add my "thanks for your reviews" to the chorus. It's just that lately the books reviewed are not "my part of modelling" so I did not read them. Now if one needs a review of "The Backward Mask" (Carson version) or the "War World" books (Pournelle / shared) or maybe a book on Android Programming (or does a review on those) I would participate,

Heck, as soon as my holliday starts (September) I plan to try my hand at a review or three (Marines in Hue City, Two DVDs on Modelling)
panzerbob01
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 10:56 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Hi Bill well i must be one of the few , but I look forward and read the book reviews 1st.(Thanks to all the reviewers) I spend has much on books has kits. A book is for life, I find much more time is spent looking through them than on spending it at the work bench. In the last month I've spent Tankgrand's Feldherrnhalle and Herbert poller's book on SS Pnz Aufkl Abt 11 Nordland alone cost close on 80 Wendy at Aviation & Military book center loves me. I'd recomend her they're service is great. I most probably spend 40 on kits this month. Some people build kits just for the building plessure others like myself love the history of a build, so read more reference books . I suppose its down to what you want out of a build. Anyway back to the pages of TIGERS IN THE MUD great read, I sound like a real book worm cheers Geraint



Hear, Hear! Ger!

Actually, I DO know how to read (I think... LoL) and I'm in this for love of history, too. Builds, fun as they are and sexy, too, actually come and go - but those books can be for life and constantly resurface. And I probably spend about 50% of my hobby dollar on them! Besides... When you dust your books... little pieces don't (usually) get knocked off and lost!

Bob
KurtLaughlin
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 12:20 PM UTC

Quoted Text



That there might no be a manuscript in English available is no excuse - if that would be the reason NOT to publish and ignore the subject it is simply a damning indictment of the publisher.

I actually once sent an email, and the respons was basically - at that time - as I understood it, 'maybe sometime later, but it is not currently in our planning because it will not sell (enough).' Military historians with a decent reputation have run into the same problem with publishers of 'popular military history': if it will not sell in the US/UK you start with two strikes against you, and chances are it will not get published. Indeed, most publishers will go for a near rehash of what has already been done. Hence the continuous overload Normandy books, for instance.




Well, I think there's two points there. One, if the US-UK market is their primary target, then the book better be in English, and if they are already concerned about how much money it will make them ("how well it will sell") I can understand them not wanting to add to their production costs by paying for a professional translation.

The second point is that if there is any fault to go about I would put it with the NON US-UK market. If it was large enough I'm sure authors would appeal to it. In other words, to rephrase my previous question, how many short, Thirty Years War manuscripts in any language are floating around there looking for a publisher? How many people would buy a book anyway?

From my own experience, in 2008 I self-published a book on the technical aspects of the M5 light tank. By all accounts it was well-received. One might think this would enjoy some moderate level of success, and in the context of technical tank book I think it has. Total sales to date: less than 250 copies. Do you think a book on the Battle of White Mountain would do much better?

KL
KurtLaughlin
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 12:25 PM UTC
Bill, don't assume that the lack people reading book reviews indicates a lack of people reading books, nor that a lack of people buying books indicates that people aren't reading books.



KL
bill_c
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 12:47 PM UTC
Again, thank you all for speaking up. This is a lively thread that has brought some important and interesting ideas to the fore. Certainly the publisher, Jim Starkweather, is interested in book reviews, because he sends me up to three books at a crack (I also do reviews for our sister site, Aeroscale, about planes).

Second, I want to encourage those of you who have favorite modeling or history books that have not been reviewed to do so. Just as we occasionally reach back for "classic" kits, there's plenty of reason to review an older book, since Amazon.com keeps them alive with their resale program.

Quoted Text

Bill, don't assume that the lack people reading book reviews indicates a lack of people reading books, nor that a lack of people buying books indicates that people aren't reading books.


Thanks for pointing that out, Kurt. This thread has gotten y'all to speak up, and that's a help to us here.
vonHengest
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 04:01 PM UTC
I always check out the book reviews, just haven't left as many comments as I'd like. There's been a lot of good looking material running through the pipeline here and I always appreciate it when someone is willing to put the effort into reviewing one or more of them. For what it's worth, I prefer having hardcopies for reference material when I can.
DutchBird
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 04:13 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text



That there might no be a manuscript in English available is no excuse - if that would be the reason NOT to publish and ignore the subject it is simply a damning indictment of the publisher.

I actually once sent an email, and the respons was basically - at that time - as I understood it, 'maybe sometime later, but it is not currently in our planning because it will not sell (enough).' Military historians with a decent reputation have run into the same problem with publishers of 'popular military history': if it will not sell in the US/UK you start with two strikes against you, and chances are it will not get published. Indeed, most publishers will go for a near rehash of what has already been done. Hence the continuous overload Normandy books, for instance.




Well, I think there's two points there. One, if the US-UK market is their primary target, then the book better be in English, and if they are already concerned about how much money it will make them ("how well it will sell") I can understand them not wanting to add to their production costs by paying for a professional translation.

The second point is that if there is any fault to go about I would put it with the NON US-UK market. If it was large enough I'm sure authors would appeal to it. In other words, to rephrase my previous question, how many short, Thirty Years War manuscripts in any language are floating around there looking for a publisher? How many people would buy a book anyway?

From my own experience, in 2008 I self-published a book on the technical aspects of the M5 light tank. By all accounts it was well-received. One might think this would enjoy some moderate level of success, and in the context of technical tank book I think it has. Total sales to date: less than 250 copies. Do you think a book on the Battle of White Mountain would do much better?

KL



I whink it would do better - although in part because it would be part of the series. It would unlikely to see it do as well as any title about WW II or the US Civil War.

And in many ways, the problem becomes circular: the sheer amount of books focussed on the Anglo-Saxon market becomes proof that only that market is viable, therefore other books never get the chance. It already holds true for the more 'obscure' subjects not well known to the general public, even if written in English and aimed at the American/UK market.

Of course the irony is that one of the most vocal complainants about this problem (J. Black, Military history professor at the University of Exeter - at least until recently), and in general the problem that most English speaking students read only books in English (which for instance in the study of WW I is a serious problem, since much valuable work has been done in German and French for starters), subsequently provides only books and articles in English - original and translation - in his 'bibliography for further reading.
Herchealer
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 04:35 PM UTC
I read some out of a book everynight. However, I usually build models for fun and not really for accuracy. You if manufacturers started maked figures of real dudes and some of the stuff in the books I read, would make for some good stuff. Well actually alot of the sutff is. I read ALOT of modern warfare/military history books. Anything from "KrystalNaght"(SP) to "Seal of Honor" The people are why I read not for the sake of a cool machine. Its the men behind the weapons that makes them awesome.....

I still appreciate the reviews though. !

Herky
Hederstierna
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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 10:09 PM UTC
Bill
Speaking about books, are you familier with Axel Urbanke's book "Endkampf - um das Reichsgebiet 1944-45 Ostfront"? It's a true masterpiece, if you're in to the final part of the war on the eastern front. It's in both german and english, and have some, for me at least, never published photoes, black and white, but also some very interesting colored ones. I'm not sure if it's available in the us, but if you're interested, it should be available from "Luftfahrtverlag START". If this dosen't work out, please PM me, and I'll see if I can get a hold of it to you.
Jacob
bill_c
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Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 05:03 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Are you familier with Axel Urbanke's book "Endkampf - um das Reichsgebiet 1944-45 Ostfront"? It's a true masterpiece, if you're in to the final part of the war on the eastern front. It's in both german and english, and have some, for me at least, never published photoes, black and white, but also some very interesting colored ones.


It's a bit pricey here in the States ($85 & up). I wonder if the publisher would be willing to supply a review copy?
gremlinz
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Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 10:51 PM UTC
I feel for you Bill, I do book reviews on my own site but they get 10% of views that the kit reviews get. Conversely my wife my wife gets umpty ( she's a professional book reviewer amongst other things ). I also with I had the piles of books arriving on the doorstep that she gets.

Being isolated down here with no decent bookshops I'm totally reliant on reviews for the books I buy. There's just too damn many of them and at some of the prices I can't just buy them on the off chance that they'll be what I want so I need to know as much as possible about what's inside them. I tend though to find a book I want and then go looking for reviews rather than just browse reviews ( If I did that I'd buy way too many books ), so I'll read it if it's pertinent to me. My last purchase were the two Sturmgeschutz : Backbone volumes as well as the Royton Sturmgeschutz title and all were only after reading many reviews ( and they were well worth getting ).

But we do what we do for the love of the game, so even if it only helps one person it was worth doing. Even if you never know you helped them.
ChrisDM
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Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 11:19 PM UTC
Of course; its a fact that not all modellers like or can be bothered with research. There are a fair number who are happy just to build out of the box, trusting the kit marking schemes and colours called out in the instructions

So you will always get much higher hits on kit reviews than you will on book reviews

Personally I love reading not just the stuff directly related to modelling, but also the more general unit histories right up to the kind of military history that is more strategic overview (Beevor and so on). But a lot of guys just like to crack the box and model with the need for historical context handled by the manufacturer for them


I guess thats why quite a few books try to appeal to both modellers and students of military history that have no interest in modelling in order to make their sales. Its difficult though; modellers want a level of detail that military history students find unnecessary (do they really care whether the tanks in that action were churchills, let alone MkIVs or MkVIs?) whereas a lot of modellers have little interest in whether Gen Clarke captured Rome or cut the highway



I think reading really enhances modelling and I do wish books got more attention
gremlinz
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Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 11:25 PM UTC
I like the crossover books. I tend to read both modelling and military history but I especially enjoy a good book that adequately covers both. One of my favourites are the Oliver Publishing titles and similar books. I'd like to see more like that but with maybe another 100 pages of the history side of it.
bizzychicken
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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 02:49 AM UTC

Quoted Text



Personally I love reading not just the stuff directly related to modelling, but also the more general unit histories right up to the kind of military history that is more strategic overview (Beevor and so on).


I guess thats why quite a few books try to appeal to both modellers and students of military history that have no interest in modelling in order to make their sales. Its difficult though; modellers want a level of detail that military history students find unnecessary (do they really care whether the tanks in that action were churchills, let alone MkIVs or MkVIs?) whereas a lot of modellers have little interest in whether Gen Clarke captured Rome or cut the highway



I think reading really enhances modelling and I do wish books got more attention

I would love to see more books that did address the history of the battles. There are pages and pages of Diorama's in "Beevor's Books". The new Panther Book shows that this type of book would be well received. The units history, battles and detailed look ats its vehicles as well a how to model them would be great. A modeller's "One shop stop" a big ask I know, but it would be good.
Citadel
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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 03:35 AM UTC
Speaking as an author whose book 'Zitadelle' was recently reviewed on this site, I think the question is very well put.
In the case of this particular title, I was most careful to include pictures and the publisher at some expense comissioned colour plates of participating armour in the battle to make it of particular interest to armour modellers ( I am also one myself). The text was about 150,000 words and the whole project took many years to research and write. I have to admit to being frankly dismayed at how little interest was shown in a battloe that is an obsession with armnour modellers. No review even mentioned the plates even though they were as extensively researched as any in a Concord publication and designed to help the modeller.
As soon as it was published one chap on one site ( not this one) asked the question: 'any new pictures'.? It would seem that many modellers 'navel gaze' equipment but seem either uninterested or not bothered to appreciate that these machines fought in a real war. They are history.
I am amused at the number of detailed, almost pedantic questions asked, for example, about the finish of a particular Tiger of the IInd Co DR in the battle but no interest in how that unit actually did in the battle.
When I made a series of videos in the 90s on the Luftwaffe one reviewer asked the question 'why no close up of the engine of an Fw-190 being serviced'. Well, if the reviewer had appreciated that all the film was culled and edited from Deutsche Wocheschau - which was propoganda film - then it follows that the answer tohis question is 'there is no propoganda value in seeing a BMW engine being serviced. Doh!
As a History teacher of many years standing, it is also the case in my experience that many more people are choosing not to read books . Pictures and images are what matter, Hence the popularity of many appallingly made documentaries purporting to be history on TV channels.
Forgive the tirade, but Bill, you really did push a button when you posed that question.
One last point, unless modellers buy the books publishers will not produce them. For them and the authors it is about making a living at the end of the day.
gremlinz
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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 05:32 PM UTC
Hey Bill, one thing you might want to look into ( assuming you're high enough up the armorama food chain to make the change ) is that the Reveiw section doesn't actually have a "BooK' section ( not that I've ever seen anyway ). So unless someone knows who the publisher is, or is searching by title then it's bloody hard to find reviews on a particular title.
KurtLaughlin
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Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 02:23 PM UTC

Quoted Text

. . . As soon as it was published one chap on one site ( not this one) asked the question: 'any new pictures'.? It would seem that many modellers 'navel gaze' equipment but seem either uninterested or not bothered to appreciate that these machines fought in a real war. They are history.
I am amused at the number of detailed, almost pedantic questions asked, for example, about the finish of a particular Tiger of the IInd Co DR in the battle but no interest in how that unit actually did in the battle. . . .
.



This is readily and perfectly understandable. A modeler can easily make two different models of Tigers from different units with different detail features and camouflage - and enjoy modeling and explaining the differences. It is not nearly as much fun to model two Tigers that are identical except for the first digit of the vehicle number, but with the explanation that '123' was from a poorly led unit that failed to meet their objective after sustaining 50% casualties, while '223's unit ran roughshod over the Russians with only one man slightly wounded. Most listeners (myself included) would probably say: "Umm . . . Why bother making two?"

For all the talk about using models to learn about history, etc., etc., etc.; in the end it is still just a model.

KL
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 08:01 PM UTC
Hi Bill,
Yes I do read. Lots, but there is only 24 hours to each day and I would need at
least 36 hours/day to do all the things I must and need to do. I read some
reviews but usually I just notice that they are there and might go searching for
them later if there is something that particularly catches my eye.
I might come back to the Valentine book sometime in the future if I get some
spare time to start building a Valentine. If I do I will ask Google about it and
hopefully find your review as well as links to other resources.
Keep up the good work, it is appreciated even if you might not notice that
someone has seen it ;-)

Regards / Robin
spetsnazgru
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Lebanon
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Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 09:44 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Speaking as an author whose book 'Zitadelle' was recently reviewed on this site, I think the question is very well put.
In the case of this particular title, I was most careful to include pictures and the publisher at some expense comissioned colour plates of participating armour in the battle to make it of particular interest to armour modellers ( I am also one myself). The text was about 150,000 words and the whole project took many years to research and write. I have to admit to being frankly dismayed at how little interest was shown in a battloe that is an obsession with armnour modellers. No review even mentioned the plates even though they were as extensively researched as any in a Concord publication and designed to help the modeller.
As soon as it was published one chap on one site ( not this one) asked the question: 'any new pictures'.? It would seem that many modellers 'navel gaze' equipment but seem either uninterested or not bothered to appreciate that these machines fought in a real war. They are history.
I am amused at the number of detailed, almost pedantic questions asked, for example, about the finish of a particular Tiger of the IInd Co DR in the battle but no interest in how that unit actually did in the battle.
When I made a series of videos in the 90s on the Luftwaffe one reviewer asked the question 'why no close up of the engine of an Fw-190 being serviced'. Well, if the reviewer had appreciated that all the film was culled and edited from Deutsche Wocheschau - which was propoganda film - then it follows that the answer tohis question is 'there is no propoganda value in seeing a BMW engine being serviced. Doh!
As a History teacher of many years standing, it is also the case in my experience that many more people are choosing not to read books . Pictures and images are what matter, Hence the popularity of many appallingly made documentaries purporting to be history on TV channels.
Forgive the tirade, but Bill, you really did push a button when you posed that question.
One last point, unless modellers buy the books publishers will not produce them. For them and the authors it is about making a living at the end of the day.


Hello Mr. Healy, Im glad to see you here in the forum, your book is on my wish list for a long time and hope to get it soon,some reviews at Amazon and the recently review here encourage me to buy a copy. thank you for your efforts and your book.
GALILEO1
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Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 - 04:46 AM UTC
Well, Bill, for whatever is worth, this thread alone resulted in me purchasing two books I didn't even know about. I'm mainly a WWII artillery and modern aviation fan so books about WWII tank units and the such do not hold much interest to me. However, like you said, it's good to expand one's mind once in a while, hence why I purchased the Panther book (excellent review by the way).



Quoted Text

Hey Bill, one thing you might want to look into ( assuming you're high enough up the armorama food chain to make the change ) is that the Reveiw section doesn't actually have a "BooK' section ( not that I've ever seen anyway ). So unless someone knows who the publisher is, or is searching by title then it's bloody hard to find reviews on a particular title.




And I'm with Dean on this one! A specific book section here would be very useful as some looking for specific titles on the various forums can get complicated. If there was such as section, one can simply go there and get all the reviews/news just about them.