Modern Electronics Manual

By Gus Donnachaidh

Originally published in EUG #30

In the February edition of Electronics, the Maplin magazine there was a review of the Modern Electronics Manual.

This Manual has been around for a while now, those of us who have subscribed to Electronics over the years will have seen the flyers which usually are stuck inside advertising it.

Personally I have thought of buying it but never done so. Recently however my wife, puzzling what to buy for my birthday decided to get me one. The review in Electronics was all the more interesting therefore since I had a chance to compare it with my own experience.

The reviewer said that The Modern Electronics Manual is a superb introduction to electronics and well worth the money and for the more experienced it it an excellent reference text.

The review also lists the individual sections and what each contains. Six are listed as Reserved for Supplement. More on this in a moment.

It is presented as a large volume loose leaf file, divided into section categories so that particular topics can be found easily. The loose leaf format means that pages can be removed for relaxing study and replaced later so the bulkyness of the file is not really a problem.

The prose style is clear and easy to read. I had a look at a few subjects which I have some knowledge of and enjoyed reading them. They presented their information in a new way which was interesting and I must confess made me think of the subject differently.

Where I must take issue with the reviewer and with the publisher of this manual is in the need to buy extra supplements. The original sales blurb said that these supplements were provided to update the text and add additional information. From what I can see this is not the case. The manual as it stands is simply a very expensive introduction to electronics book. The supplements are information which should have been in the original manual in the first place. Already this manual is becoming more like one of those periodical series which seemed to be offered for sale every January which parents are told will be vital to their children's education and future welfare, issue 2 is free with issue 1, free binder, etc, etc...

The Modern Electronics Manual is not of course quite so bleak. If you don't mind spending £40 odd on an introduction to electronics book then it might stand on its own.

But really these supplements are what will make this manual something more than a book which will end up filling a dusty corner in your wardrobe.

A flyer inside the manual offered past supplements at their original price. Some of the subjects covered looked quite interesting but unfortunately many were sold out. This is a serious deficiency. We're not dealing with a monthly magazine here. These supplements contain often important information. You might not need it now but if you buy a dictionary you don't buy one which excludes words which you aren't using at this moment. You need a word definition you look it up in a dictionary; you need information of a particular topic, you look it up in the Modern Electronics Manual, or so you thought.

Supplements numbered 1 to 6 are not listed in the flyer. Supplements 7 to 40 are but five are said to be sold out and a warning is given that the remainder are almost out of stock. Assuming that you were to buy all the available supplements the cost would be £494 and that is after you have paid your original £40 for the basic manual.

Now of course the publishers would point out that some of the text in the back supplements simply replaces the text in the main manual so it will not really be necessary. But this doesn't account for the absence of the information which is not replacing text in the manual but is in fact part of the reference sections which you will want to look to later.

The figures I have given here have not taken into account that the latest supplement is numbered 46, so add to the above another 6 x £25 or so.

Remember also that after spending £683.50 you will still need to buy additional supplements as they become available at a cost of £25, £2.50 of which is post and packing. How a small bundle of paper costing no more than 40p in postage costs £2.50 for post and packing I don't really know.

A survey in Electronics claims that 70% of subscribers are professionally involved in electronics so perhaps this explains why the publishers can get away with such exorbitant prices. And it still doesn't answer why Maplin and the publishers have the cheek to try to sell such an item to non-professional enthusiasts.

You are offered a refund if you return the manual within xx days and so on. What I would like to know is how many people have bought the original manual and have not bought the suppliments, add me to that list.

In conclusion I have to say this manual is basically quite good but is far too expensive. Especially when you consider that many libraries stock it, together with a photo-copying machine.

If anyone is interested in the Modern Electronics Manual it can be had from Maplin order code AN46A. Enquiries to the publishers, Wimborne Publishing. Tel: 01202 881749

Alternatively, you could do what the rest of us do and pick up information as it comes along.

Gus Donnachaidh, EUG #30