Small Steps to Giant Improvement

On Wednesday you will find a general release of Sam Shankland’s book, Small Steps to Giant Improvement, a book on handling pawn play (already available on Forward Chess). It is Sam’s first book. Probably you already know the name. Sam is a double gold medal winner at the Olympiad and has twice played board 1 for the US at the World Team Championship. A week ago he gave a lecture at St Louis Chess Club, presenting the book. You can see an excerpt here. And St Louis Chess Club have put a video of the lecture on YouTube:

31 thoughts on “Small Steps to Giant Improvement”

  1. Any explanation for the price rise from £19.99 to £22.99 for the two QC books released on Forward Chess yesterday?

  2. While the two new books are available as hardcover-only, the FC price will be higher than normal. When a paperback is available, the FC price will fall to its usual level. This is not a new idea for us: we did the same, for example, when the Gelfand books were hardcover-only. The general idea is to have the FC books priced a fairly steady proportion lower than the QC book.

    But the exact price an FC book will cost you depends on which country you are in and which version your device uses (Android or iOS).

    The £22.99 price you quote is the iOS (Apple) price in the UK, and it’s higher than I would like it to be. The Android versions of these 2 same new FC books in the UK cost £15.99 – again higher than our usual Android £13.99, but roughly the level I want.

    So if I don’t like the Apple price in the UK, why don’t I change it? It cannot be done. We set a US dollar price (in this case, $23.99 but normally $19.99) and Apple converts that price into prices for every other country. And it seems Apple is currently converting $23.99 as equal to £22.99. The exchange rates suggest £17 would be a more realistic conversion, but Apple will not change their rules just because I (or Forward Chess) ask them to.

    I know this is a very long answer to a short question, but it’s the best I can do to explain.

  3. As a non- iOS user I didn’t realise the scale of the rip off Apple take their customers for. Nearly 50% higher price- happy to be an android user.

  4. @John Shaw
    If I understand correctly, you can buy on the Forward Chess cloud and pay a paypal fx charge…..but the books dont appear to be there yet (apple store yes, FC cloud no)

  5. @John Shaw
    The other thing missing in your calculations is the EU mandated VAT (20% in UK) on digital books. In the UK there is of course no VAT on printed books. Taking this into account the PayPal fx charge on the cloud means the books are about 10% cheaper than the iOS app.

  6. “again higher than our usual Android £13.99”

    Well, I have Android (but live in middle of Europe, not UK) and the usual price of QC books is €22.26, Shankland’s new book is €22.99. Still, all I can say is “shut up and take my money”, I love your books! And love them the best on FC, so it’s not a question of price difference for me. But £13.99 for a QC book would obviously be a bargain… 🙂

  7. The books are now on the Forward Chess cloud, but after VAT is added in the EU are less than 10% cheaper than iOS. It looks to me in setting your £ UK Android price you have forgotten to take into account VAT, and in setting the USD price on iOS have forgotten VAT will be added to it in the EU (and sales tax in the US, but on electronic books in most states this is nominal).

  8. @PaulH
    I personally do not think electronic books should be treated differently than paper books. But they are. Our income is lower for the electronic books already, so there is no scope for us to take on the extra pain.

  9. Frank van Tellingen

    Dear John, hardcover is excellent. I would pay €50 each, if I had to. When can the books be preordered?

  10. I cracked and ordered both already. Told myself I didn’t need the French volume then promptly talked my way out of it. Looking forward to May. Though still can’t fully believe it will happen.

  11. I received Under the Surface and Small Steps to Giant Chess Improvement today. I have to say on first browsing that my first impression is quite positive! I already encountered some eye-openers, for example in Markos’ chapter on opening choice (‘equal’ versus ‘more equal’). I also really like the new paper quality and the boxes with advice. In summary: two great efforts again, thanks!

  12. I’m playing at the Grenke Open right now.
    1500 players.
    Carlsen and Caruana (+Anand, MVL, Aronian etc.) up on the stage yesterday.
    And me buying “Under the surface” at Niggemann’s.
    Chess has a good time here!

  13. @Pinpon
    It’s actually his second book for QC. His first was an opening book with three combative lines for black in the Ruy Lopez. I liked that book very much as well, but it seems unfortunately it didn’t sell that well. Speaking of which: I read in the introduction to Shankland’s book that he will write a second volume if the first volume sells well. I read the first chapters and his explanations, writing style and examples are really good – so please buy this book everyone, so I can also enjoy the second volume, which will deal with hanging pawns, isolated pawns and all the other pawn-related topics he didn’t cover in the present volume 🙂

  14. I just finished reading Shankland’s book yesterday, and my first impression was confirmed – I really like this book a lot! In fact it’s one of the best books on pawn play I’ve seen; very well explained, many eye-openers and excellent examples. Also, the problems (2 in each chapter) are well chosen and not too difficult for my level (2200 FIDE). I really hope there will be a second volume, but until then I’ll no doubt re-read this book several times 🙂

  15. This is really an excellent lesson by Sam, this makes me want to buy the book, especially since pawn play is very complicated (about as difficult as the question when and where to develop which piece (first) in an unfamiliar position. One thing that did strike me as an interesting but relatively untouch theme (though it might be in TTIB) is the effect an oversight or surprise may have on the level of one‘s responses. Since in the first example Sam gave, the idea of calculating drawing the second version of the pawn endgame after Qf4 is unpleasant, but it did not strike me as too hard (pawn endings are pretty straight forward), certainly not for a strong GM. (Though or course in practice, with little time against strong opposition, it is hard to keep one‘s cool).

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