On 8/4/06, John Gabriele <jmg3000 / gmail.com> wrote:
> On 8/4/06, Rob Sanheim <rsanheim / gmail.com> wrote:
> > [snip]
> >
> > I don't know if any O'Reilly authors read this list, but maybe this
> > thread should be sent on to the authors of the Cookbook or someone
> > else at O'Reilly.  Seems they are missing what the market wants.
> > - Rob
>
> I think they already know that many readers want pdf's. But they have
> to balance that with knowledge that many other folks (some of them
> prospective buyers of the book) will just copy and freely distribute
> the pdf if one were made available. It's probably just a business
> decision for them: do they make more sales by offering the
> complimentary pdf, or do they lose more because people will share it
> online.

But do you know how many PAPER-ONLY books are already shared online?
They just get OCR'd. And for each one of these that is not available
in PDF, that someone illegally downloads and uses - do you think that
person will then buy the paper book?

What I mean is, convenience is king. If someone wants an electronic
copy and only paper is (legally) available, they will get the
electronic copy anyway and then NO money will go to the publisher.
Whereas if the publisher offered the electronic book in the first
place, the person wanting that might buy it.

You have to remember that in many parts of the world, paper books
incur large shipping costs, and take weeks to come. If I'm about to
start a Rails project, am I going to wait three weeks for the book?

> Since a pdf is more of a convenience rather than a necessity for (I'm
> guessing) the majority of folks interested in their books, they
> probably try to stick to paper books.

Maybe in America, where you can get any book in just about any nearby
bookstore. I have yet to see a SINGLE book about Ruby in a South
African bookstore. All my Ruby books have been bought online, and I
buy many more e-books than paper books because they come instantly and
they cost less (no shipping) and they are searchable.

> Since one big benefit right now of a pdf is searchability, if I were
> Oreilly, I'd focus on making their paper books easier to search by
> humans (i.e.,
>
> * even better (or perhaps multiple) indexes,
>
> * maybe using those edge-of-page marks so you can more easily flip
> quickly to the chapter you're looking for,
>
> * easily human-scannable table of contents (and maybe even adding a
> "contents at a glance" along with a more detailed TOC)).
>
> The nutshell books seem to have more features like this. As for the
> other big benefit -- portability -- I guess we're stuck there. I drag
> a number of books to and fro work most days.

If I need something to read on the bus where I can't take out my
laptop, I print a chapter of one of my e-books. This is where the
importance of 'printability' comes in.

> BTW, one of the things I like most about my books is that I can mark
> them up with highlighter or pencil.

<rant>
You can annotate some PDF's too. Although PDF DRM drives me mad.
Lately I buy the encumbered version (so the author and publisher get
their money) and then just find a bootleg copy without all the
restrictions. Otherwise I spend literally hours registering and
reregistering and activating and being told I can't print this or copy
that to the clipboard.

Penalising people for paying you money is the height of madness - you
see it in DVD's which force you to watch all their FBI warnings and
Ad's every time you put in the disk, you see it in the 1-hour phone
calls to Microsoft every time I reinstall Windows XP. The illegal
versions are not only easier to obtain, and free, they are more
convenient to use!

If you want to see what I am complaining about, look in my journal:
http://lesliev.livejournal.com/28216.html
</rant>

Les