User:Whiteknight/New Book Guide/The Goal

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Purposes for New Books

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The process of creating a new wikibook serves several purposes:

  1. Enables you, the contributer, to teach a subject that you know.
  2. Enables other readers to learn the subject, without having to pay the exorbitant prices of textbooks.
  3. Inspires other wikibookians to contribute to your book, making it a better resource.

It has been said that the best way to learn a subject is to teach it, and so the first point above really is a double-edged sword. Not only can you as the author help other people to learn the subject, but you yourself could gain a better understanding and appreciation for it.

The second point above is another important one. Traditional printed textbooks are typically very expensive. On top of that is the fact that book publishers tend to create multiple editions of a book, one every couple of years. When a new edition of the book is released, the old versions become obsolete, even if they are more widely available, lower in price, and available used at a discount. Also, because wikibooks are available on the internet, books can be downloaded for free.

Qualities of a Good Book

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To do this, a good book needs several qualities:

  1. A good plan
  2. Solid infrastructure
  3. Sharp Focus
  4. Broad Scope

Without all these things, books will likely become either eternal stubs, candidates for a costly merger, or complete orphans.

A Good Plan

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A book needs a plan, a direction, a purpose. We don't need to write books that aren't helpful and informative. We don't need to reinvent any wheels. The best books are going to start out as outlines or plans. One chapter is going to lead into another. The material will be presented in a comprehensible order.

A Solid Infrastructure

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The book should have a good, solid infrastructure. Readers should be able to navigate the book with ease, and new contributors should know exactly what information should go where. The naming convention should be consistent. A book should also create the necessary custom templates that it needs, and should also find and employ some other templates too.

A Sharp Focus

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A book should have plenty of focus, and not be too broad or vague. A book titled "Physics" is probably not as good as a set of smaller, more defined books such as "Statics", "Dynamics", "Electromagnetic Waves", etc. When readers come to your book, in other words, they should know exactly what material it will contain. Another aspect of this is the fact that Wikibooks represents a complete library, in a sense: We already have books on the fundamentals of science, math, language, etc. Each new book does not need to cover the basics again and again. It is better to do one thing well than to do many things "well".

A Broad Scope

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Every book needs to have a broad enough scope to cover the topic in full. A book such as "Introduction to subject X" can only cover, by definition, introductory material. By that same note, "Advanced Subject X" by definition only covers those topics that can be considered "advanced". A book about subject X should not artificially limit itself to only covering a certain aspect of subject X. A book on subject X should cover the whole thing. As an example of scope, consider the method by which university programs generally break the subject of economics into such classes as "Microeconomics", "Macroeconomics", et cetera. This division might be well and good for a semester-long classroom environment, but it doesn't make any sense to artificially divide the material up here on Wikibooks. Instead, we should have a single book titled "Economics" that will cover both the macro- and micro- sub-topics.


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On a note of practicality, these requirements are also prerequisites for a book to become a featured book. Gaining this distinction for your book will help it to expand and grow beyond what you can contribute yourself.