Oh isn't it great that over the recent months we have had new books (the
Atlas) and revised editions of field guides (Pizzey & Knight, Slater).
Without these, some of us would have to find something else to complain
about, air our dissapointment with, or have a general bitch session over on
how our expectations were not met by a recent purchase.
My comments in short,
GET OVER IT!!!!!!
Simple point: Peter in his response to some of the emails highlights some of
the difficulties in preparing field guides, and probably books in general.
He comments, "getting colour renditions consistantly correct across 2500
images is no easy task".
I think he is being modest. It is more like having consistantly correct 2500
images in the eyes of not one, but thousands of readers and birds watchers,
all of whom have their own perception of colour.
Reality snap - You will never please everyone. Nothing is ever perfect. All
you can do is do the best possible with the resources at hand.
Congratulations and thank you to all those who have worked on updating
guides and bringing to us the most up-to-date information possible over the
past year\s. Your work is greatly appreciated (by the majority).
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [SMTP:
> Sent: Monday, January 05, 2004 11:38 AM
> Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Pizzey & Knight Ed 7
> G'day all
> I have just returned to the list and seen the discussion about the new
> edition of the Pizzey & Knight 'Field Guide to the Birds of Australia'
> took place just before Christmas. As someone who had a major role in its
> preparation I feel I should respond to some of the comments and questions.
> Firstly, the colour intensity of the plates was deliberately increased
> because all involved with the book, including both Graham Pizzey and Frank
> Knight, had been disappointed with the rather dull rendition in previous
> editions. While I agree that the pendulum may have swung a bit too far the
> other way for some plates, I believe that the result is an overall
> improvement on earlier versions. Frank Knight, the Pizzey family and the
> publishers all agree with this assessment. Getting colour renditions
> consistently correct across 2500 images is no easy task, and I would
> err on the side of brightness than dullness. Besides, if I can be
> for a moment, I suggest that shades of colour are rarely important in bird
> identification. Rather, body structure, position of colour patches,
> patterning of colour (striations, crescents etc) and levels of variation
> colour with age and plumage state etc are the key features that need to be
> correctly conveyed.
> Second, the question about how many editions of the work there have been.
> Two points are pertinent:
> the definition of 'edition'. Check your dictionary or ask a librarian
> what constitutes a new edition - they will tell you that, in a
> bibliographic sense, any change to a work constitutes a new edition. If
> there have been no changes then it is a reprint. Even issuing the same
> work in paperback can be termed a new edition from the original
> hardback. Each issue of this book has been updated and improved,
> therefore the publishers are quite correct in considering that there
> have been 7 editions.
> Both the publishers and the Pizzey family felt that there had not been
> enough recognition given to the considerable improvements made to this
> work each time it has been re-issued. Other field guides, notably
> Simpson & Day, have made a point of promoting their new editions as
> that, new editions. In contrast, HarperCollins have not done so with
> P&K, thereby perhaps giving the impression that it might be less
> than some others. Our rapidly developing knowledge about species
> identification, distribution, status etc, plus taxonomic changes and
> additions to the Australian list, and the long lead-time required to
> publish a book (effectively 10 months absolute minimum between
> completion of a manuscript and appearance on the shelves) make it
> incredibly difficult to maintain an up-to-date field guide. What is
> wrong with emphasising the fact that numerous improvements have been
> Third, John Leonard asked what new changes have been made for the 7th ed.
> glance at the book will show that there are significant additions to the
> introductory material, every distribution map was re-assessed and almost
> 500 of them were altered, some significantly, and hardly a text page was
> free of editorial changes, [300-400 changes to individual pieces of
> information] some minor, some major, but all improvements to what were
> already the most comprehensive species accounts in any Australian bird
> field guide. Twenty-five plates were improved and 5 species described and
> illustrated for the first time. Many of these changes were planned to be
> made by Graham before his untimely death, but over half of them were
> instigated by me in my on-going role as scientific editor.
> So, please give the book a thorough appraisal, rather than just glancing
> the plates, before forming an opinion of its utility. All constructive
> comments will be gratefully received.
> Peter Menkhorst
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