Procrastinating with Logicbites …

I’ve just been checking the February figures for downloads from Logic Matters and for sales of the print-on-demand versions of the Big Red Logic Books.

  1. The sales — modest! — of the physical books fluctuate quite a bit. But last month’s best seller was Gödel Without (Too Many) TearsInterestingly, the sales have gone up since I also made that book freely available as a PDF download. Make of that what you will!
  2. The most popular download of the three books (and second most popular download overall) was IFL2, which was downloaded just over a 1000 times. Who knows how it is being received? It is one of the better intro logic books out there, and it certainly beats most of the competition on price! I’ve newly added a page on the front of the PDF version warmly encouraging comments/feedback from readers. We’ll see.
  3. But more popular still was Logic: A Study Guide which was downloaded just over 2000 times. This rate is pretty consistent over the months. Lots of people must be being pointing students to it — but I haven’t much idea who is doing the pointing and where and why. But it does mean I need to continue working on the as-yet-unrevised chapters.
  4. The third most popular download — and this really is puzzling, though again is pretty consistent — is what used to be the Appendix to the old Teach Yourself Logic Guide, which brings together notes on some seventeen of the Big Books on Mathematical Logic (I haven’t updated this for some time).
  5. The next most popular PDF was the second part of the Study Guide (the as-yet-unrevised chapters), closely followed by the Gentle Introduction to categories, downloaded 550 times. As I’ve said before, this really is getting embarrassing; I must take my increasingly stiff and inflexible brain back to the gym and do some category fitness training, so I can revise/finish off that document in a way I don’t feel too ashamed by!
  6. So far, the Logicbites I’ve just been recently writing — the introductory chats to chapters of IFL2 — have hardly been downloaded at all. It is very early days, however, and I’ll have to see in due course whether there is much interest. The plan is for three series of IFL Logicbites, one on the propositional logic chapters (not including the chapters on natural deduction), one on quantification theory (again not including ND), and one on natural deduction. I should finish the first series this week. I’ll then pause to decide whether it is worth writing up more.

Actually, I have rather enjoyed doing the (not-very-challenging!) homework involved in writing those early Logicbites, looking at how others have handled various introductory  themes in elementary logic, and thinking a bit too about how things might be improved in a perhaps-to-be-written IFL3. OK, that’s been procrastinating when I should really have been getting back to revising the Logic Guide and the Gentle Introduction. But it is productively structured procrastination.

One sidetrack I’ve been (re)exploring after a long time, also partly prompted by Jonathan Barnes’s Logical Matters, is Aristotle’s logic — I mean the real thing, not the travesty that you get in logic books like Hurley’s A Concise Introduction to Logic (which of course nowhere discusses what Aristotle cared about, the systematization of his meta logical investigations). It would be good to weave a few such Aristotelian threads into IFL3.

6 thoughts on “Procrastinating with Logicbites …”

  1. It would be interesting to know what the demographics of your downloaders are, both in terms of age and educational background. I wonder if the fact that sales of physical books have gone up with availability of free PDFs, along with the fact that your Big Book list is one of your more popular downloads, might mean that you have a substantial number of older downloaders (like myself) who have both the desire and the disposable income to buy good books, if only someone can point out where those good books are!

    You have done us a tremendous service by writing thoughtfully about the Big Books in your list. Thanks again!

  2. Chris Hutchinson

    I’m enjoying the logic bites and IFL2. I’m going back to uni in October to do an MA, a decade after graduating in philosophy. As an undergraduate, I used your IFL 1 book, but not systematically, just when I got stuck on anything in a lecture. I thought before I went back this time, I’d really go back to brass tacks with the logic, get a proper grounding as opposed to just learning it to pass the exam, like I did last time. The timing has been great. I’ve been able to start on IFL2 and take on board the logic bites notes before each chapter. Thoroughly enjoying it!!

  3. David Makinson

    The following policy would seem to be rational for a reader of limited resources, especially one without access to a lending library that is comprehensive, up-to-date, ready to respond to purchase requests and open for borrowing in this time of pandemic:
    (1) Download and save any book that one can easily obtain for free and that looks like it may be of interest for the person concerned,
    (2) Browse downloaded books at leisure, enough to identify those that are most enlightening and helpful (again, for that person),
    (3) Of those few, buy some within the constraints of the reader’s budget.
    Details of this policy will vary according to (a) extent the reader’s budget, (b) readiness to spend time and energy searching for items in category (1), (c) willingness to access unauthorized sources for items in that category.
    If the figures for your books reflect the passage of a number of readers through (1) and (2) to (3), then congratulations are in order, though for different reasons, for both yourself and them !

    1. That policy is pretty much what I do, even though I still (technically) have access to a fairly comprehensive etc university library. And one feature of the Logic Guide I especially like is that it includes good books that are also affordable.

      Also, it’s useful to have both a pdf and a paper copy. I find the pdf is better for searching and for things that can be done as links; the paper copy is generally easier to read (especially when pages are dense with mathematical and logical formulas) and is better for quickly looking over many pages and for switching back and forth between different parts.

  4. Wee typo in Logicbite for chapter 2, second page, paragraph beginning “Quibbles”.

    “…which is not to say that the idea of form her is transparent”

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