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Update on the new Handbook of MCMC

It’s edited by Steve Brooks, Galin Jones, Xiao-Li Meng, and myself. Here’s the information and some sample chapters (including my own chapter with Ken Shirley on inference and monitoring convergence and Radford’s instant classic on Hamiltonian Monte Carlo).

Sorry about the $100 price tag–nobody asked me about that! But if you’re doing these computations as part of your work, I think the book will be well worth it.


  1. bxg says:

    Could you please say a bit more about the price issue? Do you basically trust (or at least, feel you could not usefully second-guess) the publisher’s price – is it even plausible this will give the best financial rewards to you, your co-editors, and your contributors? I’d feel fewer qualms about saving up for this if that were the case.

    Sometimes people contribute to such collections without regards their own tangible reward. A priori, I would have guessed your co-editors and contributors in this category here – but then why wouldn’t you ask about pricing? (No one is going to _ask you_ – surely!?!) If you don’t ask about pricing at all, what’s to stop you from working for some random publisher “V” with a multi-hundred dollar libraries-only pricing strategy. Or is this not relevant to you?

    Signed, someone who buys their own statistics texts out of uncompensated, post-tax, income.

    N.b. Intruding far too personally, I think it would be enlightening if you felt able to say something about where the effort went into making this book and your understanding of how our $100/copy ends up being distributed.

  2. Andrew says:


    The financial rewards to me are essentially zero. I would like to maximize readership, the publisher (I assume) wants to maximize profit. So we’re optimizing different functions.

    In general, my impression is that authors think of book sales as being highly elastic (hence we want lots of promotion, low prices, etc.), whereas publishers think of book sales as being pretty much fixed (hence they see little reason to promote, and they charge high prices).

    Why didn’t I ask about pricing? Because I was not the main force behind the book. I was happy to help on it but it wasn’t my role to start making a big fuss about things. At one point I proposed to my co-editors to forget about the book and instead put the exact same material on a website for free. But my co-editors didn’t want to do so, and so we went with the original plan.

    Where does your $100 go? I’m not sure, maybe something like 1/2 to the bookstore, 1/3 to profit for the publisher, 1/6 to the cost of printing and distributing the book, and 1/6 to the authors as royalties. In which case I’d be personally getting something like 1/24 or $4 per book (pre-tax), which doesn’t come out to very much given the number of books that will be sold.

  3. bxg says:

    Thanks for your reply. A bit sad, but I (as always) appreciate your efforts.

    Serious “knowledge” (in the sense that academicians such as you develop and hold it) is so erratically available for free and easy public access. This is in spite of: most such contributors very much wanting knowledge dissemination, not caring about direct financial rewards, and willing to go (and in fact actually going!) to long and serious effort to write their learnings down
    in a digestible form. But for the the desired audience we see so often: ok, here’s an abstract, that will be $35 (none going to the author!) to read even a bit further. Or in this case, thanks for your interest; where’s your $100?

    Ten years ago this puzzled me and I’m depressed at how little change since then. Public availability of researcher’s work has perhaps not slipped backwards in absolute terms (it seems there are certain conventions now as to when the final journal/procedings’s copyright won’t be enforced against pre-prints and the like – ??) but the progress seems glacial.

    Not any longer speaking about this book (which you’ve talked about). But I am appalled by the many someone’s today in 2011 who write a complicated, tiny-niche, book – a labor of love no doubt – and then grants full copyright to a publisher who sells it at $250 (for the likely 250 copies max it will sell.) Who is there in academia who pulls such person aside and says “Exactly what the xxxx are you thinking?!”?