Putting a Price on Air
The pitch for this book must have been something like this:
"Comrades! The Internet is hot hot hot right now. Let's go to the FTP servers and grab a bunch of documents about Internet protocols, compile them into a book, and give the book an portentous-sounding title. We want to get the book into the stores quickly, so we won't have the time to add any significant value. Sure, we all know that this information is conveniently available at no charge and in a more up-to-date form on the Internet itself. But there are bound to be thousands of suckers out there who will buy the book anyway, and we'll all make a few bucks."I tried to find something nice to say about the Internet ProtocolsHandbook, some redeeming feature, some saving grace, but the harsh truth is that there is simply no reason for this book to exist except Internet hysteria and publisher greed. The original RFCs have merely been slapped into type with a few paragraphs of transitional material, cross-references, and an occasional diagram. It's a travesty to call this book a "handbook" -- there is no clue on how to implement or use any of the material. The HTML chapter, for example, does not even include a simple skeleton HTML document to demonstrate how the various tags might be assembled into a viewable page.
The CD-ROM that is bound into the back of the Internet Protocols Handbook offers even less added value than the book, if that is imaginable -- all that is on it is the original RFC documents as ASCII text files. The author and publisher should have at least supplied a simple viewer program and a full-text index that spans the entire document set, if they were going to bother with a CD-ROM at all. A much more elegant approach would have been to put the book itself on the CD-ROM in the form of an HTML document tree that could be viewed and searched with any Web browser, as was done by O'Reilly with the Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats, 2nd Edition.--Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer Books