Hello, book buffs! As you have probably already noticed if you receive the daily AJ newsletter, I’ve recently been doing quite a bit of updating to the Online Aikido Bibliography here on the AJ website. Most of it has been minor tweaks to information, or the additional notations of newfound editions of existing listings, re-publications, etc. There are also a few new listings for recent new titles, with a couple more just about to hit the stands.
I try not to add to the database in big chunks, preferring to do the upkeep in a continuous low-key fashion that one would barely notice, but I have lagged behind recently, so it was time to catch up. It is my personal mission that this bibliography be the penultimate source for info on Aikido books. With Stan’s gracious support and encouragement, I am happy with the results so far, and I hope that it is, and will continue to be, an oft-used resource for all you Aiki-inclined out there.
One other task that I have completed at long last is to include in each of the 300 or so listings at least a few descriptive words in the way of summary. My next, and much more daunting, task is to see that each of the more important titles has at least one review, and hopefully more than one. This is where each of you can help. The bibliography has an easy-to-use facility by which you can contribute new titles, and also submit your own reviews and ratings for any listings already present. I’m not going to be able to do this all by myself, and I can’t imagine that any of you wants to know what I alone think about each title, anyway. So, how about pitching in with some reviews of your own?
That said, let me make a few requests and suggestions about submitting listings and reviews. First, please make absolutely certain before you submit a new listing that the title does not have a listing already. Adding the same title again results in duplicate listings, and they are much more difficult to remove than I would have hoped.
Second, please try to be balanced in your writing. Keep your editorial perspective, rather than using your entry as an advertising vehicle for the product, or a place to exhibit a detailed biography of the author. I will be toning down those entries that go too “Madison Avenue”. Of course, this does not mean that you can’t opine in your writing, as we want to know what you think, but only that you exercise some professional discretion about getting too commercial.
Third, please make sure that the book you are listing is published in English, or at least in bilingual format, where one of the languages is English. Stan and I have discussed at length the inclusion of non-English titles, but we agree that this would not be practical at this time. So, for now, English please.
Lastly, just a couple things about other types of books that we would prefer were not submitted for inclusion in the bibliography. We have always excluded novels and other fictional books (with a very few exceptions), and those books that are encyclopedic in nature, with only brief sections specifically relating to Aikido. Something like “A Guide to the Martial Arts” might be an example here. We do, however, like to include those books written by notable aikidoka, providing the content is at least partially aiki-relevant, or written from an Aikido perspective, such as those that illustrate opportunities to utilize aiki concepts “off the mat” for personal health and enrichment, or for business.
We have also decided to discourage listings for those books produced by the mindless and indiscriminate “mining” of information via computer search or online public-domain sources, such as Wikipedia. This methodology usually results in a loosely-edited (if at all) collection of disjointed information that provides little or no value to the reader, other than to keep his wallet lighter and easier to carry. Most of the proliferation of titles from Alphascript, Betascript, Books LLC, and Fort Press seem to fall into this category, and while we have allowed one or two titles in, so that they can be exposed here for what they are, we are going to draw the line there.
So, in conclusion, I hope this little nudge has left you inclined to help us maintain this bibliography as a relevant resource. It is here for you, after all, so I hope you’ll grab your keyboard (and your spell-checker, please) and pitch in.
I will also make a brief and shameless plea here for those teachers among you who have thought about writing, or already have scads of manuscript piled around you, to please take the plunge. There is so much that should be passed on, and the new print-on-demand publishing makes this so much closer to a feasible reality. Book on!