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A Failure of Nerve
I must confess that I bought this book solely on the basis of its evocative title and cover art. I admit that this is a pretty fuzzy set of criteria to justify a book purchase, but it sometimes pays off. Moths to the Flame, however, proved to be a disappointment.
Rawlins addresses all the right issues, but he seems to be categorically unable to take a position on them. If the "scenarios" at the end of some chapters are supposed to tell us something about the author's vision of the future, they are superficial and unconvincing. In this respect, Moths to the Flame reminds me of Bill Gates' The Road Ahead, which was ghostwritten by corporate flacks and then sanitized by corporate lawyers to the point of complete vacuousness.
Rawlins's self-professed special interest is electronic publishing. Although he devotes quite a bit of the book to the question of print publishing in a plugged-in era, his point of view and his perceptions of the hurly-burly, cutthroat publishing industry are almost purely academic. At one point he notes that a book only needs to sell 125,000 copies to get on the New York Times list of bestsellers. This is one of those classic "empty facts" -- true, but meaningless in isolation.
I found it particulary astonishing that Rawlins does not even mention the World Wide Web by name. Did he really think that mentioning the most important event in publishing since the invention of movable type would date his book or make it too controversial? The mind boggles.--Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer Books