Combining different editions of technical works ???


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Combining different editions of technical works ???

Jul. 16, 11:45pm

I've been cataloguing my computer reference collection, where I frequently have multiple editions of the same book. Most of the time, the older edition(s) give information about earlier versions of the relevant software that simply isn't in the later edition(s), so I routinely keep them all.

Nonetheless, the first two such cases I've catalogued insist that both of the editions I have are the same work, complete with offering me the cover of a later edition as a cover for an older one.

This seems questionable to me.

Books I own which have been affected so far:

Neither of these is especially worrisome, though this isn't the way I'd do it.

My larger concern is with computer language manuals, particularly manuals for python (where versions 2 and 3 of the language are incompatible, and both still in use).

I haven't checked any examples yet, but I'll be getting there soon enough as my cataloguing project progresses.

Jul. 17, 12:30am

I would agree the differences can be significant enough not to have them combined. C =/= C++ etc.

Jul. 17, 12:48am

>1 ArlieS: I've been faced with the same issue with RPGs - earlier editions are routinely combined with later editions. My rule is to split editions if characters built under the later edition aren't playable under the earlier, and use work-to-work relationships to prevent auto-combinations, reinforcing with a disambiguation notice. Same thing with translations - a straight translation is the same, a translated adaptation isn't.

So by these rules Call of Cthulhu editions 1-6 are combined, but Call of Cthulhu 7th edition is split. The German and Swedish adaptations are split out, but the French, Italian and Spanish translations are combined in. Scenarios were a bit trickier - I had to hunt for information on how the editions differed (if at all).

I've always thought that the rule to combine different editions automatically breaks down with non-fiction. Editions of books from my undergraduate days would be hopelessly outdated now, if not downright erroneous.

However, having a different cover is a cosmetic change (you choose the cover for your edition), and different people writing an introduction but the main text remaining the same means it's the same work.

Jul. 17, 1:29am

>3 Maddz: I hadn't thought of that, but I also haven't started cataloguing my collection of AD&D manuals, where I have at least 3 different incompatible editions, with several manuals for each. (I've been playing off and on since at least the 1980s.)

Bearbeitet: Jul. 17, 2:04am

>4 ArlieS: Take a look at what I've done for Call of Cthulhu RPG and Ars Magica.

All I can say is I don't play AD&D anymore - but I do have numerous GURPS 3d edition worldbooks, along with a bunch of 4th edition, and I'm dreading sorting out my Gloranthan RPGs (examples of all editions apart from the original 1st edition...)

To be honest, I'd split the various AD&D versions into separate series and link the series using series relationships.

Jul. 17, 4:40am

>3 Maddz:

Maddz in an ideal world I would like to see the Call of Cthulhu editions split. Different fluff (some have a HPL story, some do not), different scenarios, different rules and more than that vastly different page counts. CoC 1e is 96 + 32 pages + 8 page foldout map. CoC 4e is a 192 page book. CoC 5e is a 240 page book, CoC 5.5 is a 288 page book. CoC 6e is a 320 page book. It really needs a close look at the contents of all editions though - and I don't have all the various editions.

>1 ArlieS:

On technical books it really does depend on how much has changed. There are some second editions which are not much changed which should be kept combined with the first edition. There are some second editions that are substantially different and they should be kept separated. The determination can really only be made by someone familiar with the contents.

Jul. 17, 6:48am

>6 andyl: My only core set is the Games Workshop boxed set, so I’ve no idea! The only reason I have various bits and pieces is that until we got GURPS, we used BRP, and CoC and supplements were a useful resource, especially for modern games like the CthulhuPunk campaign I ran. I was also interested in the historical adaptations.

Ars Magica I have pretty well every edition as pdf so that wasn’t a problem (besides I could get Paul to ask his boss). When I get to it, we’ve got every edition of RuneQuest.

I’d be OK with splitting out the CoC different editions, apart from the faff of dealing with the translations - which tend to be of different editions. Strictly speaking, the pre-Pegasus German books are translations, whereas the Pegasus version is an adaptation.

I think the issue is in deciding whether the extra is down to more fluff and the core game remains the same, or because an old supplement has been included in a more recent edition… I suppose we could ask on the Chaosium forums - they ought to know the history!

Jul. 17, 12:16pm

I think I'm hearing that if I find a particularly egregious case, it's OK for me to simply fix it. I'm not sure whether I should be quite so bold; my one attempt to combine books ended weirdly.

Jul. 17, 12:34pm

The two issues that need to be remembered are

1) In these cases there are usually a few entries that cannot be assigned to a work.

2) The splits will accumulate editions that don't belong as time goes on.

If you find a case that really needs splitting up, and won't let yourself be eaten up by those two problems, go for it.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 17, 12:42pm

>6 andyl: I'm not sure whether the two editions of The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System should be split. My first thought was "of course they should be", because the first edition deals with FreeBSD 5.2 and the later with FreeBSD 11, and there were a lot of changes in that time.

But the page counts are similar, and so are the early chapters (which, to be fair, mostly deal with history, and very high level organization). The book is organized the same way, with mostly the same chapter titles in the same order. (Some new stuff has been added, and some stuff that's now rarely used has been dropped.)

OTOH, Memory management and File Systems changed a lot between the two versions of the OS, as did security, and you can see that easily even from the table of contents. System startup and shutdown has also changed significantly, and the network protocol section has been greatly enlarged.

Overall, I think I'd leave the two editions as one work, because it looks very much "revised and expanded" in style. But I'm not really sure.

Jul. 18, 10:06am

Another consideration is that splitting them would sever the connection in LT between some users who do share common interests. So features like recommendations and members with your books will be weakened.

Jul. 18, 11:33am

As long as the titles of the books make it clear that there are different editions - which presumably were updated with new material - I'd prefer to combine the works.
Were it fiction, I would not, however: if an author rewrites his or her work, probably it would turn to be very different.

Jul. 18, 12:47pm

>11 jjwilson61: Hence setting up RPG series. Which are a non-fiction or thematic series), rather than a publisher series (even though they include publisher codes) because publishers have different game lines or more than one publisher publishes for the same game.

>12 .mau.: That's the problem - with RPGs, it's the same core concept, but not the same execution. The rules have changed enough to make the later edition a new work. Where all that's changed is what andyl refers to as 'fluff' (i.e. background and worked examples), then they can be combined and stay combined, but when the rules have changed so much that characters aren't freely interchangeable between editions or some originally stand-alone supplements have been included, then they really should be different works.

I've got updated electronic versions of some old print books of mine, and they remain the same work. What's changed is the author's writing style; she took the opportunity to revise the books and tightened up her style quite considerably - after all, it was a good 20 years since they were first published.

Jul. 18, 4:42pm

>13 Maddz: Publisher Series are just series where the works in it are not exclusive to that series. It really has nothing to do with publishers. But I don't see what this discussion of series has anything to do with what I wrote about how editions should be combined into works.

Also it's annoying how you've hijacked this thread to be about RPGs. You've really muddled the issues.

Jul. 19, 8:36am

>14 jjwilson61: Well, excuse me for pointing out that this is an issue that affects other types of works as well.

RPGs happen to be at the forefront of my mind because I am starting to catalogue my RPG PDFs and ran into this very issue. I have very few technical works and those I intend keeping are mostly already catalogued, so I cannot offer any examples (with the possible exception of some 30+ year-old texts of mine I may have lurking at the back of the upstairs bookcases).

Jul. 19, 8:48am

There are many types of books for which this is an issue. Joy of Cooking was worked through several years ago.

Jul. 20, 10:07am

Yeah, I think it's best to do case-by-case instances, and to have separate threads for the broad types of works.

A non-exhaustive list would include:

* Technical / programming manuals. Often for programming there would be clear markings across which editions should not be combined - for Python, for instance, editions focusing on Python 2 could be combined, and editions focusing on Python 3 could be combined, but the two should not be combined with each other.

* RPG manuals. I have no knowledge or expertise here.

* General reference books like encyclopedias and dictionaries.

* "Classic" cookbooks that are frequently revised, like the previously mentioned Joy of Cooking.

Jul. 20, 11:37am

>17 lorax: I'd add

* Science texts. An edition from 10 or more years ago is likely to be at best seriously out-of-date if not downright erroneous.

Jul. 20, 2:02pm

Good addition.

Jul. 20, 2:45pm

Textbooks can be tricky because there might not be significant differences between two adjacent editions (e.g. 6th edition vs. 7th edition) but the differences add up over time (e.g. 2nd edition vs. 7th edition)

When I'm not sure, two things I usually take into consideration when deciding whether to separate different editions are
1) are there multiple copies of each edition (e.g. if the 2nd edition of a textbook has 1 user and the 7th edition has 1 user it might not be particularly useful to separate them)
2) is it easy to tell which copies belong to which edition (e.g. if one copy of a dictionary says "3rd edition" in the title but 100 other copies don't say which edition they are then it might not be particularly useful to separate them)

Jul. 20, 4:10pm

>20 norabelle414: Yeah, I was thinking about this issue of small incremental updates** and I'm not sure there's a good solution.

In certain cases I think possibly an argument could be made that the socially relevant distinction is between the current edition and all older editions. For example, if someone owns the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, it likely means they work in some field (writing, publishing) where they need to be able to access the most current information on the topic. Users who own this edition may share certain other titles of relevance to people working in the field. Whereas someone who owns any of the older editions has at least a casual interest in the topic, but doesn't have the same specialized requirements. So keeping the most recent edition separate could potentially distinguish between two different sets of readers. Whether it would make sense in practice to follow this principle is a different question, however.

** Known in philosophy as the Ship of Theseus problem, though I think I was first introduced to it using the less lofty example of someone-or-another's broom.

Jul. 20, 4:16pm

>20 norabelle414: Why I said Science texts rather than the more generic textbooks... My 'bible' for my masters was Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, either the 2nd or 3rd edition, which I got from the university bookshop in 1981 or 1982.

Even that edition had significant differences from the previous one, and I very much suspect later editions have even more significant changes. Basic research moves on, and accepted wisdom from the late 70s had been superseded by the mid 80s.

Jul. 20, 5:38pm

>20 norabelle414:

Textbooks can be tricky because there might not be significant differences between two adjacent editions (e.g. 6th edition vs. 7th edition) but the differences add up over time (e.g. 2nd edition vs. 7th edition)

Indeed -- and some of those differences can extend to the authors. The first edition of my college physics text, University Physics, was by "Sears and Zemansky." The edition I learned from was by "Sears, Zemansky and Young." A few years after, "Freedman" became the fourth author, and eventually it became Sears and Zemansky's University Physics by Young and Freedman. Then Sears and Zemansky effectively disappeared. It may have added other authors since (it apparently is on at least its fifteenth edition now).

I of course didn't see every edition, but there was a surprising amount of continuity between even the first and the tenth or so editions -- basic physics doesn't change much. The chapter on nuclear physics has to be rewritten every time, but the biggest change in the last edition I saw was just that it had a lot more color illustrations. A big help, that, but the text was often the same as the first edition.

In that particular case, I'd actually argue that it is the same book, more or less, but it's pretty hard to tell when not only the original authors but even the authors of the second round of revisions are dead.

Incidentally, these issues can bother the authors and publishers, too. My high school calculus text was Calculus with Analytic Geometry. When I was in college, this book was revised by one of my actual college professors, Dale Varberg. The revisions were so extensive that both the publishers and Dr. Varberg felt that it could have been published as a new work -- but they didn't do so, because the Purcell edition was one of the top two calculus texts on the market and they wanted to retain that clout. Later, Dr. Varberg, at least, came to regret that he didn't publish it under his own name. And, of course, that book too has now acquired another author.

Jul. 22, 2:14pm

Technical computer books also acquire new authors with later editions. Yesterday I catalogued the last 2 of my 3 copies of Programming Perl, none of which are the 4th edition described by the touchstone. Even the primary author changes from edition to edition - the second edition lists Tom Christiansen as the primary author; the first and third editions list Larry Wall.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 22, 3:57pm

>24 ArlieS: If you read the disambiguation note(s), someone has ignored it and combined several works that should have been kept separate.

I've just separated out the copies that say 3rd edition.

Jul. 22, 4:13pm

>25 MarthaJeanne: But I don't see a disambiguation notice on that link to the 3rd edition above.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 22, 4:28pm

I got the right one out of the 4th edition, but do not seem to have gotten it into the third edition. OK, done now.

On these technical books that go through many editions, it is a big help if you include the edition in your title.

Jul. 22, 9:26pm

Perhaps it would be desirable to create Relationships between the various iterations / editions of these textbooks, where appropriate. "Is an adaptation of" and "is an expanded version of" seem the most applicable. If nothing else, they'll provide an additional hurdle for well-wishing combiners.

Jul. 23, 3:12pm

>25 MarthaJeanne: Thank you.

I totally missed the disambiguation notes.

Jul. 25, 3:49pm

I don't know about say Java, but perl in the old versions is clearly primitive compared to later versions, but where to draw the cut? PHP in the older versions is pretty dangerous and I mostly keep the old books to remind me that security is important and should be part of the language design. Etc, etc. I think I'd be rather cautious in splitting into many different versions, but I enjoyed reading this discussion.