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A beautiful hardcover book chronicling the Commodore Amiga years. First hand interviews, inspiring stories, and lots of laughs.
A beautiful hardcover book chronicling the Commodore Amiga years. First hand interviews, inspiring stories, and lots of laughs.
A beautiful hardcover book chronicling the Commodore Amiga years. First hand interviews, inspiring stories, and lots of laughs.
1,523 backers pledged CA$ 109,827 to help bring this project to life.

I Need Your Feedback

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When typing last week’s Kickstarter update, something jumped out at me. The first book, Commodore: A Company on the Edge, dealt with basically 4 computers and comfortably fit into 540 pages. This book, The Amiga Years, deals with around 14 computers and 3 major unreleased computers. The entire story encompasses a longer time-frame. Other topics come along for the ride too, such as new chips, side-projects (genlock, scanners, Q-Link, Habitat, Geos, C64 mouse) and the people involved with these projects. This has naturally resulted in a book that is much less comfortable at 540 pages.

One thing began to worry me: this is going to hurt the quality of the book if I try cutting it down. There was a time when I thought the book would end up at around 700 pages, and cutting 200 pages was possible. Right now the book is over 1030 pages and growing. If I go forward with the plan of cutting from 1030 to 540, it will adversely affect the quality. Editing it down will also take a long time, resulting in a greater delay for backers.

My expectations have been changing since this project began. I started out thinking it would be a relatively small job to cover the Amiga Years, but as the research continued, the full scope of the story became apparent. The fact is, I’ve written two books worth of material since this project began! You guys can be the judge, having seen the first part of the book, but I don’t think I overwrote. I’ve tried to keep the writing pretty tight and minimal. This issue has slowly snuck up on me to the point where things have come to a head and it’s time to address this head on.

A New Plan

You've probably guessed by now that I'm considering a new plan. Before making any decision, this idea needs to go past you, the backers:  

  • I'm considering separating the current manuscript into two books: The Amiga Years and The Final Years
  • The Amiga Years would start at the formation of HiToro/Amiga in 1982 and end when the Amiga offices in Los Gatos are shut down in March 1987
  • Backers would receive The Amiga Years eBook ASAP. This includes around 2 years of never before seen material (compared to the preview released before Christmas) because the book goes to 1987 instead of 1985.
  • The Amiga Years could go into layout once the final corrections are made, followed by printing.
  • Backers would also receive the third eBook, The Final Years
  • To finance the printing of The Final Years, another Kickstarter could be held later. 

As much as I’ve resisted making this story into three books, it seems like that’s what the Commodore story requires. The meaning behind titles is often nebulous, and "The Amiga Years" referred to the period in time when Commodore produced Amiga computers. Now that title can describe the period of time when Commodore operated the Amiga company in Los Gatos.

These are some of the benefits to splitting the book: 

  • There will be fewer players to concentrate on in each book. With The Amiga Years, the original Amiga team will have the most focus throughout the book. It starts with them and it ends with them. 
  • Many interesting subjects will no longer have to be cut from the book. 
  • With less computers to cover, each book becomes more focused. 
  • Lots of things end in 1987, including Thomas Rattigan’s reign as CEO (along with “his” people). It’s a good place to divide the manuscript and it mirrors the ending of the previous book when Jack Tramiel left the company. 
  • Backers will receive the printed book and rewards much sooner. 
  • Good things come in trilogies! Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Star Wars. :) (okay, neither of these ended up with only three) 

Let me know your honest feedback. As the people backing this project your input is the most important consideration when it comes to such a decision. Please post your thoughts below or send them via a personal Kickstarter message.

Christopher Hagon, Ville Pispa, and 71 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Nate on May 28

      Brian,

      Please split the books as you suggest. I think more material is better than less. Take your time and get them right, especially editing. :-)

      Also, ignore the naysayers who are upset about how late the book(s) are. I know this is not your main job, and I'll just be happy when you're done.

      Good luck and I look forward to backing your next one!

    2. Matthew Mather on May 22

      I definitely like what I'm seeing. Three printed books of Commodore history on my shelf is better than two. :)

      I should probably finish reading the first one...

    3. Brian Bagnall Creator on May 18

      @Socrate20000: That's correct, current backers of this project "The Amiga Years" will receive the eBook for Commodore: The Final Years.

    4. Missing avatar

      8-bit-fun on May 18

      Brian,

      you are probably working on the most comprehensive Commodore story that will ever be told. Take the space it needs and take the time it needs. Please split as suggested. Make it high quality. Make it a real (printed) book. I will back it.

      Also I like your first book. However you have to promise that you will never ever do a book on Atari :-).

      One thought. With some backers getting impatient and others fearing that there will be no successfully backed third book. Would it make sense to start the Kickstarter funding for the third printed book soon? I would see it to primarily cover addition printing costs. Then, if it gets funded, it would be easier for you to argue for the split. However, if it does not, lets see. Just a thought...

      Thanks for all you work.

    5. Missing avatar

      Socrate20000 on May 18

      The proposed plan sound good to me too, as I would prefer either to have a complete, "Ultimate Commodore and Amiga" story rather than a new short version. Personally, I'm ok for your plan and would prefer a split. I would probably back for that new KS (would depend of price, that kind of stuff obviously).

      But the opponents have a point, and if I'm ok with a new KS for a printed book, due to the obvious additional cost, present backers that wouldn't want to pay more should get an ebook of this new book for free, as they paid for the complete story.
      By the way, is this what you meant when you wrote "Backers (so I bet backers of this KS, not the next KS you propose) would also receive the third eBook, The Final Years" ? Did you mean "Backers of the first Ks would also receive the book "The Final Years" as an ebook" ?
      (Sorry to ask, but I'm not an english speaking at first, so I prefer be sure ^^)

    6. Missing avatar

      David Haynes on May 17

      Refund my money or provide what was promised in the Kickstarter.

      It has been almost 2 years, enough screwing around.

      Be a cold day in hell before I ever give you another penny.

    7. Missing avatar

      Sev Kocharian on May 17

      I like the idea and I think it would be best to preserve as many details as possible. Your plan makes sense to me and I think we should go for it! Split the book!!!!

    8. Glenn Bjorckén on May 16

      I cannot help feeling cheated on here.. I backed a complete book that should have been delivered 1.5 years ago, now it is extremly late and I can take that, but now you are saying that you only want to give me half of what I paied for, and start another kickstarter campaign for the rest ? ..so I have to pay double, and wait what, five years for getting the complete story that I was told should have been in my hand 1.5 years ago for the money I already paied ?

      I'm sorry, but it STINKS. I loved the first book, and really was looking forward to this one, but this crap really give a bitter taste in my mouth.

      If you need more pages, solve that problem, but within the economic limits of the first kickstart campaign, asking people to pay again is simply rude.

    9. Yann-Gaël Guéhéneuc on May 16

      Hi Brian!

      You are doing an amazing job, congratulations!

      Also, thank you for your openness and seeking feedback, it feels like being part of a big community :-)

      I support your new plan: three extensive books are better than two "short" books!

      Cheers!

    10. Stefan Berghuis on May 16

      Hi Brian,

      First and foremost, I really enjoyed A Company on The Edge, mainly because of the in depth and complete content. For me that is also the most important here. So without a doubt, the more in depth content the better and so a trilogy is the way to go for me! It would be a shame to loose so much interesting information. However, as others already mentioned, I am not someone who reads pdf's and I would really like to own all three hardcopy books. So, if choosing the trilogy option I do hope the Kickstarter for producing the third book will get funded!

      Good luck with finalizing the book(s)!

    11. Missing avatar

      Fabien Wernli on May 16

      I fully agree to the new plan

    12. Missing avatar

      Rienk on May 16

      Please split. The more content the better. However, how will we be sure the next Kickstarter will be successful? An e-book is of not much value to me personally. I want them printed.

    13. Missing avatar

      Thomas Radtke on May 15

      Guess there's no way around splitting Brians work, so let's hope for a *significant* discount on the second book for all backers then. Another CA$40 plus p&p wouldn't work for me.

    14. Missing avatar

      Børge Nøst on May 14

      You might want to offer money back for those who are not happy with whatever outcome. (If technically possible.)

    15. Lars Erik Johnsrod on May 14

      The new plan sounds good. The more material the better :-)

    16. Christian Dannie Storgaard on May 14

      Even though I would prefer to get everything as a physical item, like I donated to, I also completely understand the need to split the text into two books. I'm also perfectly aware that any money donated during a kickstarter is an investment into a possible product, not a pre-order, so I will absolutely understand if I end up only getting The Amiga Years physically; of course I'd prefer to get both physically, but I suppose I can chip in again for the last physical copy.
      Carry on :)

    17. Missing avatar

      Andrew Fisher on May 14

      It seems better to tell the full story than leave things out.
      Definitely agree that The Amiga Years should be released before the Kickstarter for The Final Years begins.

    18. Robert Hazelby on May 13

      I'm just catching up on my emails, so apologies for only now responding.

      It's disappointing that the wait goes on for the release of the book, but it sounds like you've managed to pull together a wealth of information that's too good to drop.

      I suggest going for the split, but only kickstarting the final book once the first part has gone out to backers.

      My only worry is that the final Kickstarter won't raise the required funds for the book to be published.

    19. Robert Gentner on May 13

      Split it or don't split it but offer a refund to those that are tired of waiting.

    20. Missing avatar

      Paul G. on May 13

      Apparently I am in the minority here but I am going to give my feedback anyway. I understand splitting the project into different phases but that is not what we invested in. So basically the way it reads to me is that you are not fulfilling what we invested in: The complete Amiga years. If I was an eBook level supporter then I probably would be ok but I was the level that supported hardback for this and the early years and now you are saying that might not be the case?

      Look, I loved the first book you wrote but this book is already 1.5 years past due and I still don't see an end target in sight. I am not happy with this at all, but I guess it doesn't really matter because if you are going by the majority I am clearly not in there.

      I would like to know how many people that backed at the hardback level are chiming in vs the people at eBook level that obviously don't have as much invested.

    21. Don Meyer on May 13

      Read my comment and realized I didn't finish a thought.
      Since this is an *investment*, it's not unheard of for things to happen during the project that requires going back to the investors for additional funds. Looking at this from that perspective, the split is reasonable, and more money for the 2nd volume is reasonable. I feel like we are getting more content than expected, so higher costs are expected.

    22. Don Meyer on May 13

      Splitting it sounds like a good plan. Most of us know that a Kickstarter is investing in something that will be created, not buying a finished product. I'd rather get all the content you have gathered and created rather than lose stuff just to fit a physical book's size limits.
      I do suggest getting the first physical book released before starting the next campaign. Much more likely to get backers if a nice hardback of the first volume exists. :-)

    23. Byron Jenssen on May 13

      Book is already 1.5 years late, and now you want to split it and give us half of what we were promised. Some backers have now died, some were planning giving your book as a Christmas present in December 2015! When will the other half book be finished Christmas 2020? Are you proposing to split the last half of the book as well for another opportunity of $$$. Deliver what you promised us on Kickstarter... "Commodore: The Amiga Years", not the "Commodore: Amiga Years 0.5" with "Commodore Amiga Years the other 0.5" being released in Christmas 2020! You have our money, now deliver what was promised, it is already over an estimated 1.5 years late. :)

    24. Leif Oppermann on May 13

      Two volumens are probably a good idea in light of the generated content. But how about trying to realize them with the money that is already there? There is a risk of failure here if you made the second physical volume dependant on another campaign. So what is the contingency plan in case a second kickstarter wouldn't get funded?

      I reckon it wouldn't be fair for us backer to loose what we all paid and waited for - that is a complete physical book (or books) of the Amiga years. I for one have pledged for a campaign that promised the following: "Take a journey from Amiga's beginnings in 1982 to when Commodore filed for bankruptcy in 1994." and "As the title suggests, all the Amiga derivative machines will be covered, including the original A1000, the A500 and A2000, the A3000, the A1200 and A4000, A600, A1500, A2500. There’s also the Amiga based consoles, the CDTV and the CD32.". Now ending in 1987 simply wouldn't cut it and would be a big let down.

      That being said, I love your writing and don't mind to wait just a little longer for the full story. Please just don't jump to conclusions too quickly.

    25. Missing avatar

      Matt Treasure on May 13

      Agree that a split would be beneficial but I still want the hardback book I've paid for please!

    26. Missing avatar

      Matt Treasure on May 13

      Agree that a split would be beneficial but I still want the hardback book I've paid for please!

    27. Darren Shoesmith on May 13

      Split it. I'm happy to back it to finance the rest of it.

    28. Missing avatar

      Børge Nøst on May 12

      You need to make a complete e-book available. I can live with a physical split.
      Leaving out stuff to fit in just one physical is less desirable for me.

    29. Gianluca Clos on May 12

      Split it, I'd like to get the full detailed story. My only concern is that I just don't feel very comfortable with another KS campaign for the sole printing of the 3rd book since it was a given choice in the original campaign.

    30. Paul Jacobson on May 12

      I think split it too.

      Personally I would love to read about all the other stuff and it would seem a shame to lose all that work just to make the book fit into a single book.

      Plus you have to think about all the people that gave you the time for interviews and the information.
      I don't think they would be too happy if a lot of it wasn't used.

    31. Eero Rantanen on May 12

      Another comment over here. Split it, and include all the stories. I do not mind extra delay or money. Make it complete :)

    32. Missing avatar

      Nigel on May 12

      My inclination is for a single book but understand a lot of people would like this to be the definitive Amiga history so I can’t object too much to that. I guess only the author can really judge just how paired down the text might have to be to fit the original book length. I am a little worried that well over a thousand pages even separated over 2 volumes might give the excuse to allow the content to expand even more. If it is split still try to keep the text as ‘snappy’ as possible. Detailed not dense!

    33. PR Taylor
      Superbacker
      on May 12

      I'd be ok with the split considering my primary aim of backing was the Amiga part not Commodore. Not a fan of long ebooks so I would be interested in the completed works as well from you in a physical edition but as below, first one needs to be prioritised and done for this Kickstarter. Possibly have a pre-order discount for backers if they want the next volumes which I'd be happy with.

      The material is obviously there and to re-iterate the sentiment, its not like we're ever going to see another reasonably complete history of the Company so might as well get it out there as in a comprehensive one covering the majority of aspects. Yes I'm a backer of David Pleasance's one which is a personal viewpoint and will omit a lot of history so having a set of books will complement.

      Besides shipping a heavy book is going to be another problem compared to the original pledge level if it was a single one. Also, its a better fit on the book shelf as a large book kind of sends the subliminal message of "don't read me" rather like my Oracle PLSQL programming book (which is excellent BTW but a touch too comphrensive for a single book).

    34. Mark A. Andrews on May 12

      Split the book, but before you start a new campaign, deliver the first volume and other rewards as promised in the current campaign.

    35. Gamers4um on May 12

      (crossposting because I totally forgot each update had a separate comments section)

      I apologize in advance if what I'm going to say sounds dumb but... do we *really* need to keep the same layout? I mean, considering this is a 99% text-only book, wouldn't it be enough to just use a smaller font so that the complete book remains similar in size to the previous ones or only slightly bigger?

      The preview sent last year seems quite generous from this point of view, isn't it?

    36. Gerard Braad on May 12

      I am OK with splitting it... even though this will increase the cost. I understand, as else the cost would be on the author... which I believe is unfair to all the effort he already puts into this.

    37. Missing avatar

      Jens on May 11

      Split it.

    38. AUSRETROGAMER on May 11

      I vote for the split.

    39. Leigh Ryan on May 11

      It makes sense to split; after all, if we didn't want the complete story we wouldn't have backed the book in the first place. That being said, it's a bit of a bummer that after waiting this long it'll cost extra to get the very completeness we thought we signed up for so very long ago. It's never good when long-awaited Kickstarters move the goalposts so far into their development, and you've made a good case for it, but it's still disappointing.

    40. Missing avatar

      T. Keep on May 11

      As one of the 1,523 backers, I support the plan to split the current manuscript into two volumes. Your opinions and reasoning behind update 37 seem logical to me. Considering the scope of the subject, the time you have spent so far on this manuscript is not unreasonable. To me, it is more important that you get the job done right the first time then have to redo it again down the road.

      I would also like to see an expanded volume on the early history of Commodore with an emphasis on the first household computer, the electronic calculator!

      8-bits forever,
      TacKer

    41. Missing avatar

      Anbjørn Myren on May 11

      I vote for the split, I want the full story with as much details as possible.

    42. Seppo Seppälä
      Superbacker
      on May 11

      100% in favor of the split. Let's get the full story with nothing left out.

    43. Denny Atkin on May 11

      Completely in favor of the split. I'd much rather have more details and interviews than to have the content arbitrarily cut for the dead tree version.

      I understand the concerns of the posters below given the history of some Kickstarters. But Brian has delivered a superb previous book, he's sent preview versions of the current book to backers to show the progress, and he's offering to deliver even more than promised to all current supporters, with no demands to support an additional Kickstarter.

    44. Missing avatar

      Martin Sauter on May 11

      I'm on the "splitting" side as well!

    45. Dirk Vael on May 11

      Quality and quantity too! So yes please split, I'm all in for your idea.

    46. Brian Bagnall Creator on May 11

      Thanks for all the comments and feedback, whether in support or opposed to changing the plan. I’ve read each and every comment here and in the main section, and I’m still working through the personal messages, but I want you to know you’ve been heard. The Commodore community is the best group of people on earth. (Shoutout to Tero Mäyränen. Yes!! Yngwie Malmsteen!) People expressed really insightful views of where we are and how we got here, and there are lots of great suggestions.
      Until a week ago I had every intention of going in the same direction as the original Kickstarter described. As you know, my main goal for the book is to do justice to the people who worked hard on those groundbreaking and extremely difficult projects back then. When I realized cutting those stories would hurt the final book, my first thought was for the backers of this project who put their trust me to deliver the book.
      I will get my thoughts together and address everything in these comments. Expect an update in a few days with an estimated schedule and responses to the most frequent comments. And thanks again for everyone for participating in and guiding this project.

    47. Missing avatar

      Stefan Winterstein on May 11

      Frankly, I'd prefer a single physical Amiga book, as promised. Your campaign raised seven times more than expected, so this should give you some flexibility regarding time and printing costs.
      If you really feel you need cuts for the physical editon, strip the after-Commodore part. And you could always deliver the complete content as one or more eBooks (which for me doesn't need to be as polished as the print edition).
      Personally, I'm not sure I'd pay for another Kickstarter campain to get what you promised for this one in the first place.

    48. Missing avatar

      AndreasDavour on May 11

      You know, you are very late already and so far has not delivered on this Kickstarter. I can't say that gives me confidence to invest in another campaign for another book that was supposed to be part of this campaign, really.

    49. Goe The on May 11

      I support the proposed split into three books and will consider backing the third Kickstarter too.