When I read articles on those few subjects in which I am knowledgeable, I often recognize that the authors do not really understand the subject. I am certainly sympathetic because reporters are generally required to address a large number of subjects with deadlines that allow little time to acquire familiarity with the subjects.
Authors of books, on the other hand, are assumed to be knowledgeable about the subjects of their books. As a result, I am a little apprehensive about sending a book about shoes for review by hundreds of people who make their living dealing with issues relating to shoes.
My coauthor, Clare, and I are not as knowledgeable about any of the subjects of the book as thousands of other people. Any errors in the book are my fault rather than Clare’s. She did exactly what I asked of her – researched and wrote chapters on the subjects I gave her.
The information in the book is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection and a little time. Had I found the wide range of subjects covered in one publication, I would never have begun the book project. Easy access to the information in the book could have saved me many years of mistakes in buying footwear and the resulting pain. There must be millions of others who share that plight – and hopefully every one of them will buy a copy of the book.
(As I type this, I hear an advertisement for foot surgery on the radio. Coincidence? I think not. Maybe the new US government health plan will pay for my book as preventative care? One of the advantages of living in the DC area is that those decisions are being made by my neighbors.)
We excluded most subject matter in which we found contradictory information. The notable exception is the chapter on avoiding counterfeit designer and athletic shoes. The consensus among people at consignment shops (which go out of business if the employees cannot reliably detect counterfeits) was that they determine authenticity by looking for quality. For most people, that is a pretty vague guide.
Understandably, none of the shoe companies contacted would offer any information for the chapter for fear of making life easier for counterfeiters. As a result, we added a big disclaimer to the section of the chapter about particular brands of shoes.
Retailers of designer shoes who were asked all denied permission to photograph anything in the store. I felt it would be inconsiderate to buy several thousand dollars worth of shoes only to return them all a week later. Further, security at the stores would probably be suspicious of a good ole boy from Alabama buying a random assortment of expensive shoes in no particular size and in widely varying styles and colors. Would that constitute profiling?
Consignment stores were willing to let us take photos, but none of them kept packaging that I wanted to show in the photos. As a result, I ended up going online to buy shoe boxes and dust bags.
Who knew there was a market for old shoe boxes and dust bags? I have tried to imagine the motivation for buyers – other than writing books with chapters about avoiding counterfeit shoes. Maybe there are women who cannot afford the shoes, but like to leave the packaging around their homes to make their friends jealous?
My biggest concern was the section on resoling and replacing heels. There are plenty of salesmen in shoe stores who know little about shoes. Even I can find a pair of shoes in a particular style and color and hand them to a customer to try on. I could probably even learn to ring up the sale without too much trouble. On the other hand, it is pretty hard to impersonate a cobbler.
While reviewing the sections on replacing soles and heels, I began to look at my own shoes. I realized that some of the shoes are considerably harder to resole than anyone other than a cobbler should try. There are even some shoes that most cobblers won’t resole and/or that should not be resoled (E.g., running shoes in which the foam in the midsoles has lost its “bounce.”). I added a few weasel words to those sections.
In conclusion, I realize that there may be experts who find fault with the book. I’m a big boy and can deal with bad reviews, but I’d prefer to not provide reasons for the bad reviews in the first place.