Authors: Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, NY.
Publication date: March, 2009.
Pages: Contents, Preface: 2 pages. Text: 376 pages, including a 7 page bibliography and a 4 page index.
Illustrations: Approximately 195 photos and drawings, the majority of them new.
Tables and sidebars: Many dozens.
Enthusiasts who seek to have their tarantula photos used in books and other publications are encouraged to not concentrate exclusively on taking glorious portrait shots of their pets. Very few of these are ever used. Generally, most such photos only end up filling the occasional blank page at chapter endings, and such photos are available everywhere.
Instead, aspiring arachnid photographers should concentrate their efforts on documenting tarantulas' bizarre anatomy, physiology, habitats, habits, and husbandry. Don't concentrate on taking photos OF your tarantula. Concentrate on taking photos ABOUT your tarantula.
The photo by Larry Loos on page 85 (reproduced above, used with permission) is a good example of the principle. Everybody who has been in the hobby more than six months has already seen dozens of photographs of tarantulas, and another photo will only elicit another yawn. Few have seen one being eaten by a treefrog in a Costa Rican cloud forest! In this case the photograph isn't OF a tarantula. In fact, only the ends of two legs can be seen. And, it's not a particularly colorful or flashy photo, either. It's a riveting and informative photograph ABOUT a tarantula!
In August 2007 Barrons contacted the authors about updating The Tarantula Keeper's Guide, Second Edition (henceforth called "TKG2"). For several years the authors had freely admitted that the second edition was beginning to show its age and were even beginning to compile data to incorporate in a new edition. However, the publisher wanted the new edition by February 2008. This would require a Herculean effort at rewriting, and it was clearly impossible to produce a new collection of illustrations within that time frame. The authors agreed to updating the book, but only if the deadline could be pushed back to April, 2008. But even then, some radical strategy must be formulated for completing a major revision in such a short time frame.
Previously in 2007, the authors had submitted a manuscript entitled The Beginner's Guide to Tarantulas to Barrons. It presented a concept, that while not new in other hobbies, was indeed brand-new to the keeping of tarantulas: It turns out that the idea that each tarantula species must be kept differently from all others is fallacious. In fact, there were only five different care regimens that need be used for caring for something like 95% of all tarantulas currently in the hobby, and with only minor variations, that could be expanded to perhaps 99%. The Beginner's Guide, however, was rejected partly because it was too large and partly because Barrons already had two "best sellers" in the field and thought that publishing a third would only dilute sales, not increase them. In retrospect, these authors must agree with their judgement.
When Barrons and the authors agreed on a third edition of The Tarantula Keeper's Guide (henceforth called "TKG3"), the obvious solution to the time crunch was to integrate the two books. What seemed like a simple cut-and-paste job turned into a major rewriting. The manuscript for the third edition wasn't submitted until the middle of May!
There were immediate problems, the largest being that the original manuscript would have produced a 500+ page book before the illustrations were inserted! Cutting the book back to the 287 pages that Barrons wanted presented some "interesting" challenges. Through several rounds of negotiations, and even the help of Dr. R. G. Breene, some large chunks were deleted (in addition to those parts that were dropped during the original revision), but alas the book was STILL too big!
To say that the resulting negotiations went at all smoothly would be a vast overstatement. However, in the end Barrons managed to resize the illustrations, and incorporate less white space. We met them halfway by dropping out a few more sections. The final version is about 376 pages, about 100 pages larger than the second edition but holding much more information. You are not deprived of the deleted portions, however! They're available in the aftermarket support webpages for the third edition.
Because of the amount of time required to integrate the two books and the short deadline allowed before a finished manuscript was to be presented, there was simply no time to take new photos for the third edition. And, using all the old photos over again was an unacceptable solution. Other publishing houses have built strong negative reputations for rehashing the same tired photos endlessly. Neither Barrons nor the authors wanted to develop a similar reputation.
The solution was certainly not new or unique, but it did produce fantastic results. The authors invited selected enthusiasts who had published their photographic handiwork on the Internet to contribute some of their best illustrations for TKG3. The result is an assemblage of illustrations that is far and away the best that has ever been published in a tarantula book both because of the quality of the photography and because of the information imparted. We heartily salute the photo contributors. You did great, people!
And for the rest of you: Do not hesitate to publish your photos on the 'Net. Now that TKG3 has blazed this new territory, no doubt other tarantula books will also adopt the practice of tapping that great storehouse. If TKG4 (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) doesn't pick yours, perhaps a new generation of books by other authors will. In the words of TKG2, "Publish! Publish! Publish!"
In an effort to correct any errors that might be found, as well as to keep the third edition current, at least for a reasonable time after its publication, the authors have established a set of aftermarket support webpages. Readers should check these frequently for important updates.
Readers who find errors or who recognize data that is outdated are encouraged to pass the corrected information on to the authors. Please site specific pages if possible to aid in listing these corrections. When appropriate, contributors will be given credit for their contributions.
You can probably check out a copy of TKG3 from your local public library for free. If they don't have a copy be sure to ask the librarian to either acquire one for the library or order one for you through the Interlibrary Loan Service.
The TKG3 is available for sale "off the shelf" from perhaps one third or more of the pet shops in your area. Most can get it for you by special order if it's out of stock. In addition, the TKG3 is available by special order from every bookstore (the larger stores may even have a copy in stock), directly from the publisher (Barron's Educational Series) and from any of the Internet based bookstores like Abe Books, Alibris, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books Price. (Arranged alphabetically, no special significance should be inferred by the order in which these are listed.)
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Copyright © 2009, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz.
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This page was initially created on 2009-March-08.
The last revision occurred on 2013-July-01.