The Haynes Saxophone Manual
is with some sadness that I have to announce that the Haynes Saxophone
Manual is no more.
Since it first hit the shelves in 2009 it has sold around 12,000
copies worldwide - not including translations in Japanese and
Korean. I'm certainly not sad about that - for such a niche product
in an already niche market, I can't be anything other than delighted
at how successful it's been. To be able to take what is an undoubtedly
dry and complex topic and manage to persuade that many people
to buy a book about it is something I'll always be proud of -
though not as proud of the possibility that I might have helped
that many people achieve a better understanding of how the instrument
they love and cherish actually works.
I'm also very proud to have been associated with
Haynes Publishing. International readers might not quite understand
this, but 'The Haynes Manual' is a British institution - an icon.
When you came of age there were two things you bought - a car...and
a Haynes Manual to go with it. It's often the case that people
have as many fond memories of their first Haynes manual as they
do their first cars. Indeed, many people hang onto the manual
long after the cars have been towed away to the scrapyard.
So to be offered the chance to work with them on this project
was a very real thrill - one made all the more exciting by their
consummate professionalism and status in the publishing industry.
But in the end the bottom line must always be about
sustaining the financial health of a company, and in these days
of increasingly digital content and competition from other markets
it's often the case that hard decisions have to be made. Niche
publications are always treading a fine line; fewer or slow but
steady sales require shorter print runs, and that costs more.
Other factors add to these costs - such as storage, distribution,
handling...and simply maintaining the catalogue of publications.
At each and every stage someone has to be paid to look after it.
As much as we might want it to be otherwise, everything has to
pay its way these days.
So the decision was made to end the run of saxophone
and clarinet manuals.
In fact the decision was made a couple of years ago - but I rather
cheekily managed to persuade my editor at Haynes that while the
saxophone manual might not be a best-seller, it has gleaned some
of the best reviews they've ever seen - and that it stands as
a premier product...rather than one that actually brings them
a whole bunch of cash in. Either my editor was in a good mood
or my pitch was a tour de force - because I got a reprieve for
another year. But we both knew it was merely putting off the inevitable.
So what happens now?
Well, if you want to buy a copy (and why wouldn't you?) you'll
most likely have to settle for hunting one down secondhand.
With 12,000+ copies out there, some are bound to turn up here
and there - but keep an eye on the prices. I've already seen used
copies being prices at upwards of £40 on ebay...and some
appear to be being bought at that price.
I don't yet know whether I'll be looking into producing a self-published
version (or indeed whether another publisher might take the book
on). It's a great deal of work, which'll mean less time at the
workbench - and that's something I'd have to think very long and
hard about. I've also had a number of enquiries about a digital
version, but I'm afraid there are no plans currently to release
Clarinet manuals are still available for the time being - but
once current stocks are exhausted, that's it.
So let me take this opportunity to thank each and
every one of you who bought a copy of one of the manuals. I hope
that you found it entertaining and easy to read, and that it proved
to be useful.
Update June 2022:
I have some, potentially, very exciting news!
I have recently secured the rights to the Saxophone Manual along
with the design files (or 'films', as they're known in the trade).
This gives me the opportunity to republish the manual after making
a few changes. It's going to be quite a lot of work. For a start
I have no experience in publishing - so figuring out how it all
works and what goes where is going to be a rather steep learning
I also want to make some more changes to the manual, above and
beyond the necessary changes to comply with the copyright agreement,
and it seems sensible to do these first rather than rush to bring
a new sax manual to print and then change it at a later date.
The original brief for the manual was to pack as
much information into it as I could without turning it into an
epic tome. This was entirely due to having to meet a price-point.
That's fair enough when writing a book that has to fit within
a collection of other titles by the same publisher - but that
restriction will no longer apply. It will always be a niche publication,
but since going out of print I've seen it changing hands on places
like ebay for anything from £40 up to £100+. This
tells me there's still a market for the book, and that price isn't
necessarily a huge factor. So I can charge more for it...but add
more content. This will allow me to delve a little more deeply
into certain aspects of repair and further decrease that gap between
a maintenance manual and a full-blown repair manual.
With that said I still believe the focus should be on maintenance
and tweaking, but it would be nice to offer more dedicated tweakers
the opportunity to take their skills to the next level if they're
prepared to invest in a few specialist tools.
I won't lie - it's a hefty project, and one that
I'll have to make time for amidst my very busy schedule...so it's
not going to happen overnight. But happen it will!
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