26 May 2005

You Won't Believe....

I shan't be posting-- (did you know that that's a Rawlsianism?)--I shan't be posting tonight because, incredibly (yes, for me also), I'm finishing a book tonight.

I mean, really finishing it. I mean, preparing a print-ready PDF file of a book, to send to a printer tomorrow. (Someone once said: work every week as if you were leaving for vacation on the weekend.--Yeah, but who could stand to live with you?)

I don't figure I'll be sleeping tonight. It's hard enough to write a book, never mind design and format one. First I had to learn about Postscript Type 1 fonts (I picked Caslon--beautiful!); then I had to get them to install properly for MS Word; then I needed to get a PDF creation program that actually recognized them consistently. (Inexpensive ScanSoft, recommended by the printer--even--didn't work. I had to download the trial version of Adobe Acrobat Pro.)

So what is this book, you may wonder? I've written it with one of my best friends, who happens to be a very skilled forensic accountant. We're calling it Understanding Accounting Ethics. It's a 'virtue based' approach to the subject. After an introductory chapter about how all accounting rules are open-ended and require judgment to interpret (yes, that's consistent with my paper on 'moral absolutes'!), we distinguish the 'distinctive task' (ergon) of an accountant, and then show how, from this, one can arrive nicely at the Code of Ethics of the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). The whole thing is illustrated with cases from law and practice, and we end up with detailed studies of Enron and WorldCom.

Eventually we may go the usual route of seeking an academic or professional publisher. (Thompson is king in the accounting world.) But we wouldn't gain anything from that now. We can distribute the book well enough through my colleague's contacts in the business. (He's the Founder and CEO of AuditAnalytics.com.) And, if we publish the book ourselves, we control the rights and keep 100% of the royalties.

Now, if only I could finish that translation of the Nicomachean Ethics....