Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I published a Kindle book - Ichthyology A Laboratory Manual

I always kind of thought in the back of my mind that someday I'd like to write a book.  I mean, I write all the time for work, so I didn't seem too large of a leap to do a book.  OK, don't get all excited, it's not the sort of book you'd whip open to pass some time while basking on a beach or flying from here to there.  It's a laboratory manual, on the biology of fishes.
 Jump to the book's site at

I am a biology professor, so the writing I do is mainly technical, non-fiction, and teaching related.

Ichthyology, together with marine biology, invertebrate zoology, and limnology (freshwater biology) are courses I teach regularly.  When I started teaching ichthyology there was no laboratory manual out there that matched what I wanted my ichthyology students to do in lab, so I started pulling together materials and generating lab exercises on my own.  This went on for a number of years. Then I decided that I was tired of using this set of exercises that looked and felt mismatched and hodgepodge.  I needed to standardize them, giving  them the same look, feel, and focus.  My opportunity to do this appeared when I was granted a sabbatical for the Fall 2013 semester.

I pulled out my materials and stared writing and re-writing, doing dissections, taking LOTS of photographs, and producing ink line drawings.  I ended up with 12 laboratory exercises by the time I was done.  Perfect.

My original intent was to generate a lab manual I could distribute free of charge to students in my class.  And I'll still do that.  At the same time I thought, why not publish this lab manual as a Kindle book?  After all, the reason I wrote the thing in the first place is that there were no manuals out there that supported what I wanted my students to do.  Maybe, just maybe, it'll help someone else who's looking for materials to support their lab.

As a Kindle newbie, I found that the learning curve for Kindle publishing, though real, is not insurmountable. It's not hard at all, assuming you know how to use MS Word.  I had to go back into my original document, do some re-formatting and develop a book cover.  I did all of that in a day.  The entire process was quite interesting.

Frankly, I don't know if anyone will buy this lab manual, but at $7.50/copy it's extremely cheap as laboratory manuals go.  Biology laboratory manuals published by traditional textbook companies tend to retail for anywhere between $30-$100.

Science textbook prices have gone through the roof!  This is another reason I wrote and then decided to publish my manual as a Kindle book.  I'm also looking into making it available as a hardcopy book via Createspace for about $15.00/copy.

I have to admit that it gives me a bit of a thrill to see something I wrote at  


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