I wrote this review for this book as published on Amazon.co.uk:
I had the (mis?)pleasure of examining the actual thing at a yaji which was bought by Julian Joseph off Amazon. I based my review on that examination.
I posted it on Amazon but they seemed to have censored it. Eitherway, here it is…
NB: Since I am/was the main contributor who wrote at least 90% of the Wikipedia articles in question save for the non-guqin ones, I cannot therefore ‘review’ the written material of this book but only review how it is edited.
You do not even have to open this book to know that something fishy is going on. For one, the book is meant to be about the guqin but the front cover photos have a group of people playing erhu, a completely different kind of Chinese instrument!
Open the book and then you have the various librettos justifying the publications legality. All of the books main content is directly taken from the Wikipedia articles in question and ‘edited’ into this publication. Nothing illegal about that since all content on Wikipedia is free and therefore anyone can publish it for profit (even though one could easily get this info entirely for free…) Well, one might ask, is this a very well edited version of the Wiki articles that would warrant a publication in book form? Far from it.
Turn to the main article’s page and one can see that something is amiss. For one, the table that lists the various names of the guqin in the different Far Eastern characters. It would be wise to actually go to the Wikipedia article and compare. The thing that sticks out is the two photos of a qin; one front and one of the back. These images are rectangular horizontally. Instead of placing them one above the other so that they fit on the page, they are placed end to end leaving the two ends extending beyond the page’s bleed line. Very sloppy indeed.
As you go through the text and different chapters, you soon discover that the text is a complete copy and paste job. The only editing is in the footnoting which is all pushed to the end of each article. But the most ridiculous things are that the ‘media’ section, which on the Wiki article links to music and video demos, are still there floating around the text signifying nothing. Why did they not bother to simply remove these section? Very sloppy indeed.
When one comes to the external links section, we get a list of the names of website but no url. We then discover that the urls are actually consigned to a footnote. Why not just simply write the urls next to the wensite names instead of creating an unnecessary footnote that makes it difficult to use in the first place? Very sloppy indeed.
We proceed to the sister articles of the guqin which make up the other chapters of this book. As we read on, we notice that there is some repeatition of some of the text from the main article/chapter. Why did they not bother to remove said text instead of leaving it in? Very sloppy indeed.
But the weirdest is yet to come, my friends. Suddenly, there are several chapters on what is known as the ‘Moodswinger’. My monocle popped out. Why on earth is this included in a book about the qin? As far as I know, this instrument has nothing remotely to do with the qin so I was puzzled as hell as to its inclusion. It was only when I scanned the main article did I then discover what was up. In the ‘related instruments’ section, there was only a sentence that mentioned the said instrument. This book must have been harvested after my resignation as editor-in-chief of the guqin articles so leaving others (who may not be so qualified as no other qualified people have taken up the helm ever since) to run amok with the editing thereafter. So this rather minor error through ignorance has escaped the scrutiny of the so-called ‘editors’ and so they decide (did they even decided? Was this all robot work?) to not only include the article about the Moodswinger but also about the guy who made it even though the inclusion of these articles are unnecessary and meaningless. Very sloppy indeed.
After all that, you’re left with a pile of paper which you could have printed off the internet. Clearly, there has been no human attempt to edit the article to publishable form. One must say that most of the information is now outdated as I have not edited the article in years so the copy they used is not up to date and has mistakes.
Finally, I expected that for £25, you would get at least a hardback or 1,500+ pages of text as is expected. Instead, you get a thin paperback consisting barely of 100 pages. I think the so-called ‘editors’ are hearing ‘ka-ching’ sounds as we speak. Seriously, I could do a far better job and charge far less than what amounts to daylight robbery (IMHO, this book is worth only a fiver, £7 if you’re pushing it).
Do I recommend this book? In short, no. Why would I decieve you into buying it when this information can be had off the net FOR ABSOLUTE ZILTCH?
There maybe legally nothing wrong with this publication but it is oh so morally dubious to the extreme. Buy it at your peril for it has the intergity of sludge. Very sloppy indeed.
3rd Aug 2012: I’ve noticed that the book is no longer sold.