06 April 2011

Poll results -- subtitle!

There's a new poll (paperback vs eBook) on the right sidebar ===>
The subtitle for The End of Abundance should be...
the political-economy of water scarcity 21%15
a guide to the economics of water scarcity 26%19
economic solutions to water scarcity 18%13
an economic analysis of water scarcity 10%7
challenges and solutions to water scarcity 18%13
other (comment here) 7%5
72 votes total

Thanks for voting on this poll!

These results provide useful input but they are not the last word. First, I know what's in the book and most of you do not. The subtitle has to match the content, in terms of a promise that I deliver. Second, there's the audience. I can't really see a good way to choose a subtitle that pleases everyone. For example, people have told me that "economics" turns off engineers, but I've written the book for non-economists. I can't exactly omit the word from the title, since it appears, oh, about 200 times. I want to make it as approachable as possible. Some have suggested aguanomics, but that name raises more questions than it settles.

Let's look at the top four results:

the political economy of water scarcity -- accurate but too academic for most; I do not offer grand theories of political economy, either. I discuss the importance of political controls and decisions, but defer suggested actions to "get involved with the people making decisions in your area." Pragmatic, but not really definitive (academic target) or inspiring (activist target).

a guide to the economics of water scarcity -- I dropped "new" from the working title (... the new economics...) because there's not much new in this book. Most of the ideas have existed in the academic world for ever; I am applying them to a new area. If I wrote "new," economists would kill me in reviews, etc. For the same reason, I am leaning away from "guide" b/c the book is not a cookbook or encyclopedia. As one reviewer said "seems like an essay of Zetland's opinions." I hope that it's better than that, but it's not encyclopedic, either.

economic solutions to water scarcity -- I am leaning towards this one because it's descriptive of the book's content, as an answer to "what's your book about?" Also doesn't promise to be the be-all-end-all.

challenges and solutions to water scarcity -- again, this one turns off some people who are tired of hearing about challenges (me too). I basically take them for granted, and spend most of the text describing how to address them.

So, feel free to comment on my thoughts, offer alternative wording, etc.

I've sent the materials to the printer to look at the layout, cover, etc. If all goes well (including choosing a subtitle!), then the book should be out in May :)


  1. I think your subtitle would be best as just "solutions to water scarcity." The word "economic" unfortunately turns some people off just like the word "challenges."

  2. David, just FYI - Charles Fishman's new book is called "The Big Thirst - The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water." Here's an NPR story based on an interview with him: http://www.npr.org/2011/04/11/135241362/the-worldwide-thirst-for-clean-drinking-waterr

  3. @Laer -- Thanks. I am waiting for the review copy that Charles is sending me before I comment :)


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