Nerd Book Love

The Dover Publications folks [Link] have recently started a ‘book club’ for nerds, aka the Dover Math and Science Book Club. As you might expect from Doer, this is the good kind of book club, not the wallet scalping mode of most that call themselves book clubs and offer stercus for choices n their monthly scam.

The Doer folks started as reprinters of out-of-print/furrin nerd books. I believe their first product was a reprint of Jahnke and Emde, which is a German maths handbook of great value if you are interested in things like Riemann Zeta functions. Since then they have grown to be a publisher of greater dimension, offering high quality – printing and binding – books at good price. Yes, that already sets them apart from the majority of publishers who offer poor printing, fall apart binding, and outrageous prices. From most publishers, nerd books seldom are priced less than $50 whereas at Dover it is hard to find one over $50.

The dimensions of Dover include not just the sciences, maths, and engineering, but bairn books of all manner, arts and crafts and hobbies books (of interest to FD SCP,) and lots of CDs with collections of all manner of illustrations and art. I used their old omnibus ten CD clip art set for years back when I lived all too closely with the venereal disease known as PowerPoint.

Their nerd book club requires you to register and in turn reduces prices on books to 0.8 of list, and uses all sorts of targeted marketing communication that is infinitely more dignified than either Amazing or Barnes & Ignoble. No monthly dunnage to buy or be fines. No deadlines that have already expired before the flyer got mailed out (a tactic the book industry apparently learned from the medicalists!) Just an opportunity to buy good, often classical books at an even more than fair price.

I first discovered Dover when I was a teenager learning in high shul about logarithms and then trigonometric functions. I bough a lovely little maths handbook at the appropriate level by Carmichael and Smith, Mathematical Tables and Formulas, for the princely sum of $1, It was the first book I had bought by mail order and when it arrived it was the first paperback I had ever had that was sewn rather than perfect bound (glued.) I still have the book, it shows a bit of wear and I had to patch the spine a few years ago with binding tape, but it still holds and delivers. I still buy from Dover several times a year and after American Science and Surplus, Dover is second on FD SCP’s hate list, which is a form of high praise in itself.

Back when I was called upon to abuse teach graduate students I always tried to select a Dover book as the text since they were fairly priced. I first ran across this practice when I was in graduate shul and took an advanced mechanics course under John David Jackson at the campus of the Boneyard. Sadly his electromagnetic theory book is not published by Dover, a lapse that will go uncriticized.

But what set off this mumblage was the announcement of a memorial day sale at Dover and this statement of one of the books on sale

“This classic text explores the geometry of the triangle and the circle, concentrating on extensions of Euclidean theory, and examining in detail many relatively recent theorems. 1929 edition.”

Dover is the type of book publisher who would associate a 1929 publication date with the phrase “relatively recent”.

Truly a wonderful symbiosis between nerd and publisher of nerd books.

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