Oracle Scratchpad

August 29, 2012


Filed under: Non-technical — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:31 am BST Aug 29,2012

Here’s the content of an email I sent to Packt back in February this year:

Please ensure that I don’t hear from Packt again.

I have been approached twice in the past and explained that I don’t have the time, and I’m not interested in reviewing books where I have had no involvement with the authors.

This elicited an apology, of course, then on 4th August (after two more pieces of spam from them) I sent them another email quoting the above with the following introduction:

Further to your recent emails, please see below the contents of a note I sent to one of your fellow “executives” at packt a few months ago.

Please note that if I hear from packt again I will publish a note on my blog pointing out that you are a disorganised, incompetent and unprofessional bunch of spammers.

Again I received an apology assuring me it wouldn’t happen again – but look what arrived by email yesterday:

Hi Jonathan,

My name is Rohit and I work with Packt Publishing, a U.K. based publishing firm specializing in IT books.

I came across your blog via a Google search and noticed a good amount of relevant information and blog updates related to Oracle.

We have recently published a new book titled Governance , Risk, And Compliance Handbook For Oracle Applications. Written by Nigel King & Adil R Khan, This book includes an in-depth coverage of corporate, IT, and security Governance, creating a risk management program, performing risk assessment and control verification, cross-industry, cross-regional laws and regulations, and much more. You can read more about the book here:- .

With your knowledge and expertise in Oracle, I feel you’d be an excellent reviewer for this book. Hence, if this subject interests you and you’ d like to go through a copy, simply let me know and I’ll have the eBook added to your account and would provide you with the download instructions in my next e-mail. You can then download this book instantly.

It’s possible, of course, that there are plenty of excellent writers that have published through Packt, and it’s possible that those writers have been treated courteously, professionally, and efficiently; but Packt seems to be happy to have me tell the world that its staff is: “a disorganised, incompetent and unprofessional bunch of spammers”.

Update Feb 2013

Well, at least they waited another 5 months before displaying their incompetence again; the following email arrived on 4th Feb:

My name is Mohammad Rizvi, I am an Author Relationship Executive at Packt Publishing. We specialize in publishing IT related books, e-books, and articles that have been written by experts in the field.

Packt is planning to publish a book on Oracle 11g R2 RAC, titled Oracle 11g R2 RAC Administration Cookbook . The page count of the book will be 350. The target audience will be Oracle DBAs who administer Real Application Clusters.

Given your experience with Oracle, I was wondering whether you would be interested in working on this project.

Please let me know if you would like to know more about the project.

The author even included a link to my blog in the email!  Too bad he didn’t do a little checking of the blog content, he might have noticed my previous complaint about Packt.



  1. Hi Jonathan,
    really incredible story…”Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Forrest Gump.

    Comment by Alberto Frosi (@Albertofro) — August 29, 2012 @ 7:40 am BST Aug 29,2012 | Reply

  2. I would second this post – I have come to distrust and dislike Packt through my own experience of reviewing a book for April Sims. According to her, it was no cakewalk working with these folks. I had to laugh when I received a letter almost exactly like the one that Jonathan received – I am the world’s worst writer, not to mention that I am but a child in the world of Oracle. If the nincompoops at Packt want me to write a book, they have got to be friggin’ out of their minds!

    Spammers indeed.

    Recommended response to any inquiry from Packt: “Not only No, but HELL NO!”

    I was blessed in that Packt never pestered me again.

    Comment by charlesdschultz — August 29, 2012 @ 11:14 am BST Aug 29,2012 | Reply

  3. Considering they were at ukoug last year and probably in many other places where you have been they could have get in touch with you directly instead of just spamming … I remember when i visited their stand at ukoug last year with my fellow (we’re – we try to be – both oracle dba) they asked us if we were interested in writting a book about the oracle database … I guess they also spent their time spamming people visiting their stand :-)

    Comment by Olivier — August 29, 2012 @ 5:17 pm BST Aug 29,2012 | Reply

  4. Good one Jonathan, It made me smile.

    I figure if a company is going to be as lazy as Packt have been then they deserve some negative publicity.

    Comment by mwidlake — August 29, 2012 @ 5:54 pm BST Aug 29,2012 | Reply

  5. Hi Jonathan

    Unfortunately, I seem to get the same spam from Packt, including the one you highlighted above. I now simply ignore them and hit the delete button but this all does much harm in the end as I recently refused to review a book from someone who I did actually know in large part because they chose to get it published with the “Packt spammers”. One of the disadvantages I guess of having a popular blog such as this.

    Comment by Richard Foote — August 29, 2012 @ 11:46 pm BST Aug 29,2012 | Reply

  6. Oh dear! Guess what I just found in my gmail trash?
    An email starting with:
    “Hi Nuno,
    My name is Rohit and I work with Packt Publishing, a U.K. based publishing firm specializing in IT books.”!
    Ah well… :D

    Comment by Noons — August 30, 2012 @ 4:16 am BST Aug 30,2012 | Reply

  7. Jonathan. Richard. Unbelievable. How respectable gentlemen like the author of Oracle Core and the Index Man just got played. Negative publicity, still publicity.

    Comment by Alex Nedoboi — August 30, 2012 @ 6:48 am BST Aug 30,2012 | Reply

    • Alex,

      It looks like you believe the old saying: “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. Unfortunately that claim carries the same validity as the claim that: “all b-tree indexes need to be rebuilt regularly”, i.e. none.

      I noticed that your backlink leads to a reasonably favourable review you did of a book published by Packt; this adds some backing to my comment that the behaviour of the publisher isn’t necessarily a reflection of the ability of the author. I’m even happy to give you a little publicity by supplying a link to the review so that others can see it for themselves.

      Comment by Jonathan Lewis — August 30, 2012 @ 8:00 am BST Aug 30,2012 | Reply

      • Jonathan,

        1. Validity none? Wouldn’t that depend on implementation. Point applies to both indexes and bad publicity. Yes, we all know how indexes are implemented in Oracle, certainly no need to rebuild. But publicity – so much room for improvisation.

        2. The review. I so wanted the two (the original comment and the review) to be isolation level serializable. Awkward timing. Thanks for the link though. So to repay the favour: anyone reading this comment before midnight 30th August New York time, Jonathan’s book “Oracle Core” is on special at ($10 daily deal plus 50% off ebooks in August, so comes to $5). Five dollars, cheaper than a pint of decent beer, but infinitely more wisdom.

        PS When I was typing the original comment, I was going to make a different joke. That you and Richard had orchestrated the publicity for Packt on purpose. Then I thought that’d be too much so I reverted to the “bad publicity still publicity” joke. But now that I posted a link to your book, the readers may suspect an even deeper conspiracy.

        Comment by Alex Nedoboi — August 30, 2012 @ 10:48 am BST Aug 30,2012 | Reply

        • Alex.
          Thanks for highlighting the offer ( – I doubt if the 50% offer and the $10 offer can be combined, though.

          Regarding “Validity none?” – “depends on implementation” is not consistent with “all”.

          Comment by Jonathan Lewis — August 30, 2012 @ 11:16 am BST Aug 30,2012

  8. Granted that I am not at the level of Oracle Database knowledge of either Jonathan Lewis or Richard Foote (or any other number of people in the Oracle community), but I feel insulted by Packt Publishing. I have yet to be asked to write a review of one of the books that they publish (I would have to buy the book first to provide a true book review, so that would immediately disqualify many of their books). Yet even after I wrote an extensive 26 page review of one of their books and officially submitted 21 errata items covering the first 88 pages of the book, I heard nothing back from the publishers (aside from an email with a link to a Survey Monkey page a week ago) even though I provided a Gmail email address with each of the individually submitted 21 errata items. Six months later, the errata items still have not appeared on the publisher’s website.

    What was the last errata item that I submitted? Pages 84-88 of the book describe the virtues of implementing multiple block sizes in a single database, without mentioning a single potential issue associated with implementing such a configuration. Page 88 contains rampant plagiarism, copying word for word, the bullet points from this web page:

    One would think that plagiarizing anything from that site would be immediate grounds for pulling the book off the market. This is the second of two books published by Packt Publishing that I looked at, and the second of two that contained plagiarized content (the other book was pulled from the market). I am sure that this statistic is not consistent across all of their books, but it is an odd statistic. What guidance is Packt Publishing providing to their selected book authors, or for that matter their technical reviewers?

    As I mentioned, I feel insulted. I paid the full cover price.

    Comment by Charles Hooper — August 30, 2012 @ 10:59 am BST Aug 30,2012 | Reply

    • Charles,

      I think you probably disqualified yourself from the spam list by doing the wrong type of review.

      You didn’t supply links to the review you mention (which wasn’t for the same book that Alex reviewed), but I think it’s worth pointing people to the type of review that can be a real help in assessing both the book and the review:

      Part 1:
      Part 2:

      Publishers generally don’t seem to be very good at publishing errata – I’ve sent several corrections for Oracle Core in to Apress, using the official errata page, but only a couple of them have appeared so far. That’s why I have my own errata and addenda pages on the blog.

      Comment by Jonathan Lewis — August 30, 2012 @ 11:20 am BST Aug 30,2012 | Reply

      • Jonathan,

        Thank you for supplying the links to my 26 page review. I am hopeful that more than a handful of people find value in my extended book reviews, at least more so than those reviews that simply summarize a book’s table of contents.

        Yes, you are probably right regarding the reason why I did not receive the spam email… if so, you might have found the solution to the spamming problem.

        I have also had problems submitting errata to Apress – I just assumed that the authors had indicated that the errata items were not errors. In light of your comment, the errata items might have been lost in a misrouted XML data package, sent to the recycler/shredder for pre-processing.

        For those interested in a little light reading, I have a 10 page review of “Oracle Core” on my blog, along with a 35.5 page review of an Apress book, a 24 page review of a red covered book, and roughly 15 other extended length Oracle Database book reviews.

        Comment by Charles Hooper — August 31, 2012 @ 12:02 am BST Aug 31,2012 | Reply

  9. Was anyone else asked to review “Oracle Advanced PL/SQL Developer Professional Guide” by Saurabh K. Gupta? I notice it has one review on Amazon from “orawiss” who only only appears to review Packt publications.

    Comment by William Robertson — September 1, 2012 @ 10:40 pm BST Sep 1,2012 | Reply

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