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.

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!

Anonymous said...

Make sure that you do not include the period after.pdf. in the link. I initially got a 404 message then realized I needed to remove that dot and it came up fine. Enjoy!

S. Peek said...

I don't suppose anyone's found a copy of the Ignition PDF with fewer missing pages than the one at http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf , or, identically, http://web.gccaz.edu/~wkehowsk/ignition.pdf ?

Or am I having some sort of rendering issue here?

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eugene said...

in case anyone is still reading this thread, the http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf link still works. It does look crap on screen but download it and it's a good copy, and a great read

Anonymous said...

The issue with that pdf seems to be in the rendering, I think it's been OCRed and chrome at least is showing the OCR text not the original scan. Use a different PDF viewer (Perhaps download it or just save the messed up looking one, then open it in adobe reader or something) and it seems to work

Anonymous said...

Yes. Download it first. Then open with Adobe Acrobat. Worked for me.

Adem Rudin said...

Rutgers is finally re-issuing it: https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/ignition/9780813595832

$25 for paperback, $90 for hardcover.

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