An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin

My Meteor Crater Book is Done

I have never promoted any of my inventions or projects in this monthly article before, but this is kind of special.

As the new year begins it may be fitting that a long time project of mine is being completed. I have been working on an expanded version of my book on Meteor Crater for several years and it is just finished. I am at the point of saying no more editing. Every edit now causes me to have to save the word processor file as a sized print ready PDF and a new upload to the printer. So there are not going to be any more. If there are mistakes they will have to be discovered later and I will let them accumulate and make occasional updates of corrections.

That is so different from how book publishing was in the past. I have been involved in some way in the printing industry for decades. And I have printed dozens of books for customers. Always shooting negatives and making plates. The words fixed in paper and ink for the whole press run. No chance for change or correction. But, now with "print on demand" online services, I can modify the text and fix errors and make the work better as time goes on. I donít envision many changes. After four years of off and on work on the manuscript it is something I am happy with in general. But, I did make some strange decisions that I have not made in manuscript formatting before. No page numbers. I decided that I wanted the flexibility to add material if I learned something very interesting in the future. And page numbers would mean updating every page in the manuscript. Without them I can add a paragraph or take one out and replace it. I can swap photographs if I take a better one or reprocess one and make  it look nicer. I can make pictures bigger or add more pictures.

I am excited about trying "on demand" printing for this book. The other advantage is I am not going to inventory boxes of books for a decade till they are sold. And I donít have upfront costs for printing. Something to really think about now that I no longer own or manage a traditional printing company. I have never had to pay retail for any of my books before. I just went in on a weekend and shot the film, made the plates, ran the press, set up and ran the folder and binder and put the books in boxes. All it cost me was the price of the paper. Now none of that is available to me.

Anyone reading this article month after month knows that I have a fascination for Meteor Crater. Since my first visit as a kid I have been hooked on The Crater and meteorites in general. Over the years I have built up a nice collection of reports, papers and magazine articles on Meteor Crater. I have included three in the second half of this new book. The original papers of Barringer, Tilghman, and Gilbert will give the reader a wonderful insight into the world of crater research at its infancy. And at the same time a view into the minds of three very bright pioneers in the field of asteroid impacts.

Maybe the most entertaining part of the book are the narrative tours of the rim and the floor. I take the reader on a typical hike from the past when they were allowed. Nearly every location of interest is described and most are shown in photos. None of these locations are really available today to the general public. The narrative hikes are as close as I could make them to being at the crater walking.

 

I donít think I will write anymore big books after this one at least not one this large. Been thinking about some small booklets on meteorite topics as a project later on. This book was a real chunk of work. I need to rest up mentally from it for awhile. If there is ever a next time I will get some better software. I would never have thought while I was in the printing business that I would miss the commercial typesetting programs we used, but I sure did on this book. Using the software I had at home in my computer was a painful chore. One I am glad to see completed. On two occasions the file was too large to be saved and I lost major portions of what I had written. Basically, I would work along and save as I went only to get reach the point where I wanted to close the program. At which point I was told I could not save the file before exiting. Cutting and pasting thirty or forty pages at a time from the previous saved version to rebuild the book after these failures was annoying. Then hoping that I would be as creative the second time writing. The name of the software can remain a secret. It also had a spell checker that required a save after nearly every word to be sure you did not lose corrections. It would cause the program to crash if used while writing. Spell checking had to be done as a risky operation of its own after the  file had been saved. And no I donít want to send a report about the unexpected error to. . . well you can guess who. I began the work thinking that programs today for home use would be able to do pretty much what I was used to on a commercial level a few years ago. But, mine would not handle hundreds of pages of text flawlessly. I had this one photograph that would not stay in place. No matter what I did I could not anchor it and still wrap text around it. It wanted to move from page to page every time I added material in front of it. I must have dragged that photo around ten times during the writing. My advice to writers starting a big project; "Go out and get a good publishing program, don't use the one that came with that new computer you just got."

But, the book is done and if you are interested you can order a copy at :

http://www.cafepress.com/Craterbook

It is not the final word on Meteor Crater or its history just a nice collection of this writerís thoughts up to now. I know that it could be an endless project. Meteor Crater after all remains the best preserved crater on Earth and therefore one of the finest laboratories for research. New information and discoveries will continue to be made there. Its history will move on. Over the last forty years I have added Canyon Diablo meteorites, shale and impactites to my collection. Some of them are pictured in the book. As I sit and look at these pieces of cosmic material they take me back in time. Reminiscing about visits to the crater; I think of friends who are gone now and of great times we had. It makes me want to get back there again or at least get out meteorite hunting more often.

Tucson is just around the corner and I will have another chance to look at and hold bits of rock from; I donít know where exactly. Out there. . . .in space, where we have not been yet. Iíll probably buy a few more stones while at Tucson. I guess I got such a good start in this hobby as a kid going to Meteor Crater that I have never lost that momentum. I remain as thrilled by meteorites today as I was then. Maybe that is why I like to write about them every month. Next month I will be back to something less self serving then promoting my book. Some topic solely meteoritic or tektite centered. Until then, sit with one of your own meteorites and ponder the way your life has been influenced by visitors from space.