On Fri, Dec 16, 2005 at 11:12:32PM +0900, Bill Guindon wrote:
> 
> Without a doubt, it would, but I think it would be a tough sell to
> publishers who seem to be convinced that it would reduce future sales.
>  Pay-to-preview may mean fewer eyeballs than a free preview, but it's
> more eyeballs than no preview (the traditional approach).

I tend to think that a reduction in future sales isn't so much what
they're worried about, even if publishers say it is.  Most people with
that kind of decision-making authority at a successful publishing house
are smart enough to see the advertising potential and product
improvement potential in pre-releasing an incomplete or unpolished work,
if you point it out to them and make a halfway decent case for it.  Yes,
there's some risk of reduced sales, but it's miniscule in comparison
with the potential return in increased sales, especially if there is
secific material that will only be available in the paid-for version
still to come.

What it really boils down to, I think, is the common desire to get
dollars from everyone who would be willing to part with them.  The "lost
sales" they worry about likely aren't really any reduction in total
number of sales: handled even semi-competently, you can gain more sales
than you'd lose by doing an electronic pre-release, even for free.  With
current intellectual property laws and expectations in the US, however,
people in IP-related industries just have a problem tolerating the
thought that anyone got to "experience" what they're selling without
paying for it, regardless of whether that actually hurts revenue
streams.

Obviously, there are exceptions, and thank goodness O'Reilly is one of
them.  A personal example of an exception working out in the publisher's
favor is the Pragmatic Programmers' Ruby books: I used wget to download
a copy of the Pickaxe book so that I'd always have it handy whether
online or not.  After reading it, I was inspired to pick up a copy of
their Rails book, for which I shelled out cover price (minus my member
discount at the bookstore).  I'm now planning to pick up the Pickaxe2,
again for cover price (minus the member's discount at the bookstore).

This may not work as well for fiction (for instance), but I'm not really
interested in electronic copies of novels anyway.  It sure as heck works
for technical references, though.

-- 
Chad Perrin [ CCD CopyWrite | http://ccd.apotheon.org ]

unix virus: If you're using a unixlike OS, please forward
this to 20 others and erase your system partition.