Erik posted an entry talking about an introduction he wrote for a forthcoming C# textbook, and he says:
Many computer books are so heavy that lifting them cause hernia [sic], yet they have less content than your favorite tabloid.
Which made me think about something that I worry about: what’s a good BMI for a book? (By BMI, I mean the fictional Book Mass Index, a related measurement to the human Body Mass Index.) Namely, will people not buy a book if it’s not hefty enough?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m working on a language reference book for VB, something like a K&R or Stroustrup for the VB .NET language. (Whether it succeeds in reaching that lofty goal still remains to be seen.) One thing I continually worry about as I write it is whether the book is going to look good sitting on the shelves between all those behemoth VB books that Barnes and Noble seems to stock. With a mostly-done first draft, it currently clocks in at less than 300 pages, which means it’s going to be puny in comparison, even given some inevitable expansion as I fill in some holes I left in the draft. I’d like to think that it’s just that I’m packing in more information-per-square-inch than other books, but I don’t know.
One thing I’m still debating on whether to add to the book is a section on the VB runtime functions (Left, Right). Technically, they’re library functions, but they’re so closely identified with the language that they are as good as part of it. If I did that, they’d definitely pad the book out nicely (Gosling et al. used this to great effect in their Java book). Of course, that would also mean I’d have to write it.
Ultimately, I think it gets back to something I had to come to terms with when I started working out a few years ago. Being a somewhat competitive person, I would keep track of how I was doing relative to other people in the gym, but over time I observed that no matter how fast or strong or flexible I got, there always seemed to be someone who was a whole lot faster or a whole lot stronger or a whole lot more flexible than I was. I finally decided I either had to quit comparing myself to others altogether and just be happy with my own progress or I had to quit working out. I figured the former was the better option…