21 November 2009

Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants

John D. Clark. IGNITION! An informal history of liquid rocket propellants. Rutgers University, USA 1972.

Current Selling Prices
$250-$1400 /£150-£800

This is rocket science. Cult book among rocket geeks or the aspiring 'rocketeer.' Includes amusing stories e.g. an attempt to use skunk oil as a fuel. Talk about stinks and bangs! 232 pages with illustrations. Couldn't find a pic of the book so used a stock ignition type photo (but see below...)

VALUE? Mainly available as a POD (Print on demand) at about $85, the actual book is scarce and only one is available at Amazon USA. Takes 2 to 4 weeks to source which often signifies that the book will not be found. Also typically there is no mention of condition and no one to ask (you can't talk to a monolith) and there is an assumption that it doesn't matter. To paraphrase Russell Crowe -- 'Condition isn't everything, (it's the only thing!)'

As an old thesis it can also be got as a POD from UMI (University Microfilms) in Ann Arbor at about $100. This is said to be true of all university theses although I have never tested it. You need patience. I have had those funky UMI paper wraps books through and they do a pretty good job. Depends whether you want to use the book or collect it. Rockets, space exploration and astronomy are all very saleable subjects - watch this space.

STOP PRESS. In late Feb 2008 the only available copy to be found at abebooks.com is $90 from Babbit's described thus:
Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ [published date: 1972] Hardcover Typical library defects. Boards moderately smudged with library tape residue, spine and boards slightly edgeworn. Endpapers mildly soiled. Interior clean, binding tight. Dustjacket mildly rubbed, smudged, and edgeworn. ; Ex-Library; 8vo 8" - 9" tall; 214 pages; Rare--technology kvk orange/black scicat.
I.e. a pretty nasty copy stopping just short of hideous. The POD is still there (and will be till 2525 as it only comes into being when desired) and a copy (at Alibris.com) described thus - 'New, authorized, professionally-bound facsimile reprint. Any photographs may not be as crisp as the original' commands a stratospheric $180. Reprint it Rutgers!

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2009 Have at last found a photo of this fabled book. No one seems to be selling the Print on Demand anymore and one crackbrained seller on Amazon UK wants $1400. Cheapest copy anywhere is $249.99 for a reasonable jacketed example. Cannot understand why the book has not been reprinted (or Kindled) - right now the world needs a light-hearted rocket book (at a down to earth price.)


Dark-Star said...

Followed a link to this book in a roundabout way, and very much would like to have it. The author sounds like one of those rare people who can make a dull and dry subject both humorous and intriguing to average Joes like myself.

Anonymous said...

I found a copy of this in .pdf format online a few months ago. Check the usual bittorrent sites.

It is extremely interesting. It made me want to learn chemistry just to fully understand it.

Propellant Chemist said...

I have a hard back copy with a silver cover. I bought it at Kmart about 20 years ago when they had piles of books on tables.

ShawnD said...

Months ago I came across an article about Ignition! but like everyone else I had no luck finding a copy. I tried again today and amazingly found a reasonably good PDF version available at
http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf. In my searching I came across this blog and figured I'd post here in case someone came along later. Enjoy

Anonymous said...

@ShawnD; You, Sir, are a star. An absolute star. I've been looking for a copy of this for myself for nearly 20 years, after borrowing one from a friend. I know what I shall be doing this afternoon!

Steeljaw Scribe said...

Alas, that link for the PDF is now long dead any suggestions/ alternate sources?
w/r, SJS

Anonymous said...

The link's working.

Anonymous said...

The PDF is poor quality, alas, readable to the moderately dedicated but missing letters in maybe 1/3 of the words.

Anonymous said...

No it's not - the pdf is fine, no missing words at all. Your equipment may be faulty, the file is fine.

Have made a copy of file and will propagate on the web to make it easier to find.

Zubair Gexton said...

Your website is really cool and this is a inspiring article. e-liquid flavors

Luke Zureyus said...

As of today (03/19/14), the PDF link is working perfectly fine, and the text in it is pristine.

Whoa, that's another night gone with reading!