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Interviews

Working for the Man

Unfortunately, the first Interactive Course title got caught in a corporate transition to a new publisher. This stopped the eZone website, which was key to the series success.

I was paid by Simon and Schuster, as expected, and it was more money than I could have imagined before this juncture.

The amount was off-putting, even frightening. At the same time, I was pleased that some karmic debts came to fruition. For example, during a down cycle in my previous business, I sold private stock to my good friend Henry Dakin to keep the business running. The sale to Simon and Schuster afforded me the cash reserves to pay Henry a 10-fold profit on his investment, steer Waite Group through a bad year, and get it back on track.

The deal congealed in 1996. Macmillan immediately went to work to "integrate" the redundant processes in my business with theirs. I was under the impression that this implied eliminating what is known as "back-end processes" -- functions such as accounting and ordering office supplies. But to MCP, it meant a lot more.

In the office I tried to dress like a corporate solider. That did not last long.

Over the next few months, I watched as the Waite Group, on its way to becoming a think tank, was slowly dismantled as a business and turned into what felt like a soap factory for technical books.

The words of my attorney haunted me.

I knew that what was happening was not something I could complain about; after all, it was no longer my company; I had to be a good corporate soldier and obey my new masters. I became particularly gloomy the day we lost our desktop production team since this segment had been vital to ensuring quality and uniqueness prevailed in our titles.

Java was not a friendly language yet it 1 was being adopted everywhere. Thus, Java Primer Plus.

While we confronted the realities of the so-called corporate integration, Charlie Drucker and I endured seemingly endless meetings regarding the design and content of books we planned to publish. MCP's "Unleashed" titles were great market performers. Thus, the firm wanted me to focus on the large volumes with many pages that had brought them this degree of success.

I complained that we should sell books by the pound. That did not go over well.

MCP also desired that I back-fill technical areas I had yet to cultivate. I believed this was a mistake, as the topic areas the firm desired to publish already boasted many well-written books. I wanted to focus instead on new product ideas.

The result? We did both.

  • Truespace 3D Modeling Construction Kit
  • Certified Course in Visual
  • Basic 4
  • CGI How To
  • CGI Primer Plus for Windows
  • HTML 3 How To
  • C++ Interactive Course
  • HTML 3 Interactive Course
  • Perl 5 Interactive Course
  • Java Language API SuperBible
  • Java How To
  • Java Networking & AWT API SuperBible
  • Java Primer Plus
  • Open GL SuperBible
  • Oracle How To
  • Perl 5 How To
  • Spells of Fury
  • Visual C++ 4 How To
  • Web Database Construction Kit
  • Web Database Primer Plus
  • Web Publisher’s Construction Kit

The Big Series

  • The eZone Series
  • Mitch Waite Signature Series

My crew produced the back-fill titles to satisfy MCP for larger books; I developed more exciting cutting-edge initiatives. My most fabulous project during this juncture was the eZone Interactive Guides. This Series represented a further adaptation of the old Master C concept of transforming the PC into a personal instructor but taking it a bit further.

It was still the early days of the Internet; web browsers, personal digital assistants, and the Google search engine were about to be founded. We infused the eZone Interactive project with the conception that the Internet represented a new way for groups of people to collaborate.

Thus, this emerged as a combined book/website that allowed anyone reading the book to step through online tests to confirm the results of their instruction. The approach also encouraged readers to meet with other users and thus obtain free tutoring. Upon the completion of all tests, readers would be offered a diploma. We garnered our best authors and then coupled them to the top programming subjects, such as C, C++, and HTML.

The poor Signature Series. I promised so much to the authors and they bared their souls to make this book the best ever. But the titles were just tossed into the catalog and no marketing meant the end before it got started.

While MCP supported the intrinsic concept of eZone, the firm was experiencing turmoil and conflicts that distracted them from growing and abetting new ideas. IDG Books and its "…for Dummies" series dominated the marketplace. Consequently, MCP's once proud, super-thick, advanced Que books series was displaced by IDG's yellow-and-black covers poking from bookstore shelves. Now every conceivable topic could be learned by a dummy. Sams, a subsidiary of MCP, produced a series of Idiots guides, but these never replaced the Dummies books

Ultimately, MCP was sold and sold again, eventually finding a berth with the UK's Pearson Group. With such distractions, little time was offered to leverage the 'technology kid' in California to good effect. Waite Group Press diminished in size, then shrank still further.

After two years of witnessing these events at close range, my employment contract expired. I walked away financially more secure than ever before but, at the same time, psychologically disappointed as I had ever been to see what had happened to my once proud company.

And so we arrive at the close of the narrative of my career as a publisher and its adjoining tale of the evolution of the computer book.