First there was the For Dummies series by Wiley Publishing and then came The Complete Idiot’s Guide series by the Penguin Group. Since they did so well, there has been a host of other series based on the similar themes, subjects and layouts as both the For Dummies series and The Complete Idiot’s Guide series. The most promising of these knock-off series has been the Everything book series from Adams Media.
The Everything series tends to be indexed very well, organized well and include an interesting “Additional Resources” section of print media, websites or organizations to help you get further details. These are especially helpful for students, teachers or freelance writers.
The books use an easy to read font and use different colored text and headings to help break up long chapters into easy-to-digest pieces. Like the two series it mimics, the Everything books also has specially named and illustrated features scattered about the text. These include “E Alerts” which are warnings; “E Essentials” which are “quick, handy tips” and “E Facts” which sometimes wanders into the trivial.
Unfortunately, the Everything book series does not have the clout (such that it is) that the For Dummies or The Complete Idiot’s Guide has. Perhaps this will change in the future. But for now, the Everything series cannot pull in experts in the field that also know how to write. The writing quality varies considerably from book to book.
Also, these books are less than 300 pages long. That does not include the introduction, contents list, index, Additional Resources section and advertisements for other books in the series. Many books in the series try to cover topics much too broad to be explained in less than 300 pages. The most successful books in the series are ones that focus on a more specific topic, such as The Everything Blogging Book by Aliza Rishdahl.
The Downright Ugly
The titles of some books in the Everything series can be deceptive. The writer may cover a topic slightly different than what the title suggests. This can be highly annoying. One example of such a book is The Everything Aquarium Book by Frank Indiviglio. He spends most of the book talking about saltwater or marine aquariums. This does not help people with freshwater or brackish water aquariums.
This was also reflected in the eight pages of color photographs in the book. Seven pages described salt water species. Color pages also push up the cost of a book and so it would have been much better for the reader to ditch the photos and get eight more pages of content, especially about freshwater aquariums and equipment.