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Many professors publish introductory books on their subjects, for undergraduates or sometimes books for a non-academic audience. something like "Introduction to Art History" or a 'guide book' to 'Thinker X' etc.

How do these affect your academic reputation? Or are they primarily making them money? I don't quite understand, because many of these books are really quite basic and expository in nautre.

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    If the book is good, the influence on the reputation is positive. And I can imagine someone getting ready to choose where to study Art History, remembering that elementary book she read back in high school, and choosing to study with that professor because of it. – GEdgar Apr 7 '16 at 21:25
  • I'm not sure about academic reputation itself, but if the book gets enough attention, anything academic can easily be outstripped. At my university, one of the processors was the guy who started HowStuffWorks, wrote several of those books, and a few others. No one really cared about the myriads of textbook authors there, but everyone wanted that guy to sign their copies. – user51101 Apr 8 '16 at 16:07
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How do these affect your academic reputation? Or are they primarily making them money? I don't quite understand, because many of these books are really quite basic and expository in nature.

This question seems to be based on a false premise, namely that the two primary reasons for writing a book are developing a scholarly reputation or making money.

One common reason to write an introductory text is dissatisfaction with the available options. If you write your own textbook, it will be a perfect fit for how you feel the course should be taught, and you can address any deficiencies you see in competing books. If nobody else seems likely to write the book you have in mind, then writing it yourself may be preferable to repeatedly using books you dislike.

More generally, many books are written as a service to the community. Depending on how cynical you are, this could be viewed as noble (taking on a poorly paid and not particularly well respected job for the benefit of the world's students) or self-important (believing that you have unique and valuable insights on topics that hundreds of teachers with equal or greater experience have thoroughly addressed).

  • +1 for your amusing (to me, at least) division into noble and self-important reasons. Also, you have me wondering which applies to some of the stuff I've done, especially in regards to my many lengthy and reference-filled internet posts over the past 15+ years. – Dave L Renfro Apr 8 '16 at 16:02

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