Then I discovered that law students don’t read law books. They are to be carried, taken home once, then placed on bookshelves and finally sold to next year’s law students in pristine condition.
For lawyers, unlike participants in the four-minute mile or the Tour de France, taking shortcuts is understandable when reading traditional law books. But still, we legal authors find it difficult not to include everything that we know and a great deal that we don’t know.
I wanted to write law books that people including lawyers would have the satisfaction of reading cover to cover. I was prepared to take the risk that they would discover that my books were total rubbish as opposed to traditional law books where they could never be sure. This new approach called for law books to be either shorter or more interesting. I chose short.
I soon found that I could leave out a few hundred pages, and readers either didn’t notice or didn’t mind. In my first book “Law for IT Professionals” I was complimented by one reviewer (there was only one) for summarising the rest of the law in eighteen pages.
Other legal authors found that my brief and short (“BS”) approach to law suited them too and cut hundreds of pages from their titles. They found as I did that they were far easier to carry around and introduce into conversations.
One disappointment is that the second-hand market in short law books is disappointing. On one occasion, I happened to be in Dymocks in Sydney and on requesting my own book (posing as a discerning reader) I was told, “You are in luck, they are now fifty per cent off.”
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