And that's a wrap! (Microsoft Office for the Older and Wiser is finished)

26 August 2010

Book cover: Microsoft Office for the older and wiserPhew! It's been a busy few months, but I'm pleased to say that I've finished work on my new Microsoft Office book, a sister title to my social networking book published by Wiley. I've just finished checking the last of the page proofs today and it's looking fantastic.

The book covers both Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft Office 2007, and there aren't that many differences between them. It takes a project-led approach, so that readers are taught what they need to know in the context of something useful. The book goes from the early steps of introducing the ribbon interface (particularly useful for those who haven't upgraded since Office 2003), and covers advanced layout in Microsoft Word, creating spreadsheets with formulae in Excel, creating a photo album slide show in PowerPoint, and making a recipe scrapbook in OneNote. There's also a bonus chapter on using Windows Live Mail together with Hotmail to send email messages including your Office files.

Each chapter concludes with ideas for other projects that can be created using the skills taught in that chapter. I hope this will help readers to see how they can use the skills in the nine detailed projects to do almost anything they will want to using Microsoft Office on their PC.

I've had a lot of fun writing this book. Some bits were challenging to explain (I took a few drafts to explain why styles matter in Word), but generally it flowed easily. I've tried to make the screenshots fun and colourful as well, and I'll be uploading my example files from the book to this website so that readers can experiment with them and use them as the starting point for their own projects.

There were a few sections that were cut for reasons of space as well, which I'll upload to this site if they make sense lifted out of context.

For more information, visit the homepage for the book Microsoft Office for the Older and Wiser. The book will be published mid-October (just in time for Christmas!) and is available for pre-order at Amazon now. Amazon guarantees that you will pay the lowest price it offers between when you order and the publication date, so you might be able to save a few pounds by ordering now (even if you're buying it as a gift for someone else). You won't be charged until the book is posted to you.

Permanent link for this post | Blog Home | Website Home | Email feedback

Do we need warning labels for journalism?

14 August 2010

Tom Scott has come up with a brilliant idea: labels that can be stuck on to newspaper articles to warn readers that the contents might be bad for them. We have warning labels on just about everything else, so why not on newspapers, he reasons?

He's created a sheet of stickers you can print out that covers the most common problems with news media today, including PR surveys masquerading as news, unverified tip-offs reported as facts, unverified plagiarism from other publications, and the publication of almost unedited press releases. My favourite one is 'Warning: Journalist does not understand the subject they're writing about'.

I've written about bad journalism in the past, including the Daily Mail and the Sun's publication of unverified claims of a ghost sighting, and the Daily Telegraph's poor research on a medical story. It would be wonderful to see people sticking warnings on stories such as these.

Tom Scott says that he's been putting the labels onto free newspapers on the underground, but it would be an interesting exercise to take a paid-for daily newspaper, and see how many articles do not deserve any of the labels. For a lot of the dailies, I'm guessing few stories will escape unscathed. That's one reason why newspapers will struggle to charge for online content: they're not doing their job well enough for people to be willing to pay.

All of the labels concern the reporting and not the material selection, so I did suggest that one missing label might be: "This is trivia. It doesn't matter. Read a book." Tom Scott replied that "one person's trivia is another person's vital information", which is true enough and puts my suggestion outside the scope of his project. Even so, I think poor story selection is also an important constraint on newspaper quality today. If there were fewer Paris Hilton stories, there would be more space for real news, and more need to generate real news too.

You can download the labels at Tom's website.


Permanent link for this post | Blog Home | Website Home | Email feedback

Ebooks are outselling hardbacks at Amazon

05 August 2010

Amazon's latest financial results show that it is selling more ebooks for its Kindle reader than it is hardbacks. Specifically, Amazon says it sold 43% more Kindle books than hardbacks over the last quarter, and 80% more in the last month. Ebooks sales in the first half of 2010 were triple those in the same period last year.

The ebook and hardback figures aren't necessarily directly comparable. Firstly, hardbacks tend to be much more expensive than ebooks. They're premium products marketed to those who are willing to pay a bit more for a luxury copy of a book by a favourite author. The stat released by Amazon refers to quantity sold and doesn't make reference to total ebook and hardback revenue, but ebooks tend to be cheaper. Secondly, hardbacks are limited run products while ebooks will stay in the catalogue permanently. The catalogue from which Amazon can sell ebooks is likely to be much wider than the catalogue of currently available hardbacks.

That said, the figures do show how the industry is changing. They prove there is an appetite for ebooks, and that Amazon has had great success in exploiting it with its Kindle device. It will be interesting to see whether this momentum can be sustained, or whether it is driven by the novelty value and people re-buying much loved titles in a new format.

For authors, it represents a great opportunity. Amazon has a programme that enables authors to self publish their work for Kindle. As I said in my article about how to self-publish with Lulu, distribution is not the same as promotion, so you'll still need to do some legwork creating demand. But these latest stats suggest the market might be large enough to justify your time targeting it.

Update: When I blogged about ebook buying behaviour around the Kindle launch in 2007, I said that I suspected ebook sales would be existing customers buying in a new format. I wonder whether the hardback sales are down because the Kindle sales are up? Amazon doesn't report any trend details for hardback sales.

Labels: , ,

Permanent link for this post | Blog Home | Website Home | Email feedback

Dip into the blog archive

June 2005 | September 2005 | January 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | May 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 | July 2017 | August 2017 | October 2017 | November 2017 | January 2018 | February 2018 | August 2018 | October 2018 | November 2018 | December 2018 | January 2019 | March 2019 | June 2019 | August 2019 | September 2019 | October 2019 | January 2020 | February 2020 | March 2020 | April 2020 | May 2020 | June 2020 | September 2020 | October 2020 | December 2020 | January 2021 | February 2021 | May 2021 | June 2021 | October 2021 | November 2021 | December 2021 | January 2022 | February 2022 | March 2022 | May 2022 | July 2022 | August 2022 | September 2022 | December 2022 | March 2023 | April 2023 | May 2023 | June 2023 | October 2023 | November 2023 | January 2024 | February 2024 | May 2024 | June 2024 | Top of this page | RSS


© Sean McManus. All rights reserved.

Visit for free chapters from Sean's coding books (including Mission Python, Scratch Programming in Easy Steps and Coder Academy) and more!

Discover my latest books

100 Top Tips: Microsoft Excel

100 Top Tips: Microsoft Excel

Power up your Microsoft Excel skills with this powerful pocket-sized book of tips that will save you time and help you learn more from your spreadsheets.

Scratch Programming in Easy Steps

Scratch Programming IES

This book, now fully updated for Scratch 3, will take you from the basics of the Scratch language into the depths of its more advanced features. A great way to start programming.

Mission Python book

Mission Python

Code a space adventure game in this Python programming book published by No Starch Press.

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps book

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps

Discover how to make 3D games, create mazes, build a drum machine, make a game with cartoon animals and more!

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Set up your Raspberry Pi, then learn how to use the Linux command line, Scratch, Python, Sonic Pi, Minecraft and electronics projects with it.



In this entertaining techno-thriller, Sean McManus takes a slice through the music industry: from the boardroom to the stage; from the studio to the record fair.

Walking astronaut from Mission Python book Top | Search | Help | Privacy | Access Keys | Contact me
Home | Newsletter | Blog | Copywriting Services | Books | Free book chapters | Articles | Music | Photos | Games | Shop | About