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Louis Davidson

Book Reviews…

When I wrote the 2005 book, I promised that I would take the time to respond to reviews as much as possible. From the good ones if I didn’t really believe that the person read the book (there were a few I have seen, but not too many people tend to write good reviews that clearly haven’t read the book unless they are paid to.)  In fact, I am constantly surprised with good reviews, mostly because it is so difficult to write a book. I just spent an hour yesterday tracking down 20+ typos that the Chinese translator found.

I will also comment on the less good ones that are posted by people who clearly don’t like the material. You aren’t required to like the book, and when I am writing it I purposefully will ruffle the feathers of certain groups of people (particularly the ones who don’t believe normalization matters!) In fact, I think that the 2005 book was significantly better than the first primarily because of a few reviews that smacked me around and made me realize some of the errors in judgment that I made.  My favorite review of the 2005 book was a private review that was scathing in a few important points that I applied to the 2008 book.

What burns my feathers is bad reviews that have no information whatsoever. I mean, take this review of the book on Amazon (

Waste time to reading this book.,
“Since nobody publish a review for this book, I would like to say something. I have to say: Don't read it. It just waste your time.”

Now, I won’t make any kind of fun of the reviewers grammar, as it is very likely that he is not a native English speaker. But if I were to review a remake of Bio-Dome where Pauly Shore spoke with an English accent in Shakespearean-style rhyme and stopped watching the film 5 minutes inI could say more than this about than “it will waste your time.”  I will also admit that there are probably a million people that would plunk down a tenner and happily watch this movie (and not just because movie theater popcorn is so much better than you can make at home.) Part of a good book review is to identify the type of reader. If this person is a DBA, this might be that he read the first chapter and said “bleh,” then fair enough.  If he read the words “database” and thought that there would be dating tips, well, yeah, it would be a waste of time. 

I might not be able to speak for every author out there, but I am sure that almost any author loves to get honest feedback on their work, particularly us who write trade literature. I want to target what people want to read, and with new editions likely for new versions of SQL Server, it is important to provide new/fresh/useful upgrades to the material.  The best place to determine what to add are reviews: public, private , whatever, as long as they are from people who have read the material and know what they were reading. 

As always, if you want to contact me, go to the contact form on my website: (you can contact me anoymously there too) or email me at  Just please give honest feedback about what you have seen, not just post a review because no one has published a review yet.

Published Thursday, January 8, 2009 12:59 AM by drsql

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James Luetkehoelter said:

I'm replying to that review Louis...

January 8, 2009 7:25 PM

drsql said:

Thanks, eventually I will finish reading your book and post a review :)  

January 8, 2009 7:57 PM

AaronBertrand said:

That's too bad Louis, I will be posting a review also.  I like your books, and this one is no exception; it deserves fair and honest reviews, not junk like that.

January 10, 2009 3:06 PM

AaronBertrand said:

And BTW, typos do not make a book bad.  They come with the territory.  I remember several occasions in newsgroups or mailing lists where a topical argument would turn on its head because someone spelled a word wrong.  Oh no!  Sacrelig!  The point still comes across, typos notwithstanding.  Except in the rare case where it actually changes the meaning.  Look at Erland, we still understand what he's talking about, even though he misses important words all the time.

January 10, 2009 4:08 PM

drsql said:

Coming from a person who has that avatar it must be true :)  Seriously, when you shell out as much as we ask, typos should be kept to a minimum unlike blogs and articles like Erland puts out. Since there is no money changing hands the expectations are lowered.  Of course it is really hard to be perfect, and the technical reviewers and all of the editors won't find everything just because of the sheer magnitude of stuff to review, and of course budget limitations.  Publishers don't make that much money on each book to spend an eternity on a book.

But like you say, "fair and honest" reviews are essential. Not overly good because you don't want to hurt the author's feelings, nor so mean as to only be out there for that purpose alone.

January 10, 2009 4:28 PM

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