I saw today that The Essential Blender, the Foundation’s official getting started book that I was fortunate enough to spearhead and edit a long time ago, is still selling on Amazon. In fact, it was #38 in the 3D Graphics category. I also noticed several reviews from the past year in which the people who got the book just trashed it and Blender.
Now, I’m a free market person. I believe that consumers should take responsibility for their purchases. How anyone could go on Amazon, with its copious publication information, recommendation system and reviews, and buy The Essential Blender today is completely beyond me. It was published almost five years ago, which is an eternity in the world of software. Recent reviews indicate clearly that the book is out of date. And yet, people continue to buy it.
A simple search on Amazon (or even teh Googles) would have shown them that there are more recent and almost certainly better alternatives (and not just my Blender Foundations). In that sense, maybe the people who are still buying it are a self-selecting low functioning group that are probably doomed to fail at 3D animation anyway. I mean, if you can’t do some basic research on the web before dropping your $25-$40, how well are you really going to be able to handle a full featured 3D animation system?
On the other hand, I think that the Foundation should work with No Starch Press (the publisher) to yank the book. I believe that it is irresponsible to continue to sell a product that is ridiculously out of date. As much love as I have in my heart for that book, it should be in the remainders bin at a discount/left overs type store, selling for $4. Furthermore, by reading the most recent reviews it appears that they are shipping the version of the book that had printing problems. The Foundation never publicly acknowledged it as such (to my knowledge), but one of the printings of the book had serious imaging issues and should never have been shipped. From the reviews, it appears that some retailers are shipping them*. If you ordered one of these books recently and the printing is bad (images unreadable/smudged), I urge you to attempt to return it under the grounds of defective product. As someone who worked in commercial printing for almost a decade, that kind of product should be considered unacceptable. To knowingly sell it as such is… less than upstanding in my opinion.
Of course, this may not even be the Foundation’s call. No Starch Press may have the right to list that book into perpetuity and sell it down to the last shredded cover, fifteen years from now. I certainly hope not, because it pains me to know that when someone buys that book and has a bad experience with it, they now associate myself, the Foundation and Blender with that bad experience.
In any case, maybe this post will show up on someone’s Google search if they are thinking of buying the book and will steer them in the right direction.
* In the original version of this post, I misstated that the publisher was shipping the books when in fact it is at least one retailer. The bad books have most likely not been under the control of No Starch Press for a very long time.