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O'Reilly Discounts Every eBook By 50%

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the good-deal dept.

Businesses 108

destinyland writes "O'Reilly and Associates just announced that they're offering a 50% discount on every ebook they publish for Cyber Monday. Use the code CYBERDAY when checking out to claim the discount (which expires at midnight). Amazon has also discounted their Kindle Fire tablets to just $129. Due to a production snafu, they've already sold out of the new Kindle Paperwhite, and won't be able to ship any more until December 21"

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108 comments

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Wow... (3, Funny)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about 2 years ago | (#42093831)

Orly?

Re:Wow... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42093905)

better than anally

Re:Wow... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094127)

For the receiver, anal is better. I mean, there's a reason adults wear butt plugs and not pacifiers. You know that feeling when you take a nice big shit? Feels kind of good, doesn't it? Well, a dick (or dildo) in your ass is even better. And if you're a man, you stimulate the prostate (tip: that's a man's G-spot).

Re:Wow... (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 years ago | (#42095583)

Why is this marked troll? It's just a cute pun! Geez people... Uptight much?

Virtual books are retarded. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42093861)

At some point, I stopped and realized that it is NOT a good thing to have things centralized and beyond your control. It IS better to own a book which is YOUR copy which does NOT change or disappear. Just as you should own your local music and not stream it from some "cloud". And the same goes for a lot of things.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (4, Interesting)

isopropanol (1936936) | about 2 years ago | (#42093933)

If however you need some information now about a topic that becomes obsolete rapidly, why not save money, resources, and shelf space by getting it electronically?

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42093949)

To tell you the truth, I actually am in such a situation right now where I would like an updated version of a programming book. Still, the upsides don't outweight the downsides on the whole.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (2)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 2 years ago | (#42096349)

I like my Nook. It is easier to haul around than the stack of reference books I need (PHP, Javascript, HTML5, CSS, Perl). And it takes up much less desk space.

OTOH, there was a time when I could flip to the exact page in this or that book to cross check some squirmy detail of syntax or best practice. I haven't figured out how to do that on the eReader as yet. But that is a matter of developing new habits to replace outmoded ones. Not a problem with the technology.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 2 years ago | (#42096599)

I desperately want you to be right, but the truth is, eBook readers still largely suck in terms of random-access flip-through usability compared to... well.. a real book. The sad truth is, it's just not the same. I've bought about a dozen ebooks so far, and none of them have really been read much. They feel more like curated blog postings and online tutorials than like real books.

Plus, it's all the little things wrong. Formatting glitches nobody bothered to fix. Bad page breaks. Pages whose composition nobody really gave a shit about, where a real book would have had somebody at the publishing house agonizing over and tweaking the layout for a day. eBooks feel raw and perpetually unfinished, even when they *aren't* "early access" copies. It's like, everyone knows they're going to do further editing, so nobody at the publisher wants to invest the time making it look good *today*, then when "tomorrow" comes, nobody has time to make it look polished *then*, either, because the book is "done", most of the people who are ever going to buy it already paid for it pre-release, and there are 10 more books they have to work on to bring in more revenue instead. Real books have a permanence about them that motivates publishers to spend the extra time polishing their layout, tweaking the kerning, and all the other little things that Make a Difference to the overall reading experience.

Did I mention the fact that eReaders pretty much universally suck for non-sequential reading workflows? Kindle might be a net improvement over a 1,000 page printed novel, but it's not an improvement over a random printed Manning book. Every e-reader I've seen feels like you're wading through wet concrete when flipping through the pages.

And dammit, I'm still trying to find an Android pdf or epub reader that will let me read 2-up pages (like an open book) on my Xoom in landscape orientation (intelligently trimming away much of the margins, but maintaining the relative layout and flow of the printed book).

The other problem is that the hardware is just too underpowered. Books might be static while you're reading, but replicating the experience of flipping pages in a real book requires some major CPU power... not to mention fast, random-access media and lots of ram. None of this "fetch a tiny chunk at a time through a microSD single-bit cocktail straw" and "run at 200MHz to make the undersized battery last more than 2 hours" bullshit.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (1)

Shempster (2523982) | about 2 years ago | (#42097365)

As much as I wish you were wrong... for technical books,with lots of diagrams, eBooks are lacking. eBooks need some critical features:

Robust search & presentation

Excellent bookmarking features.

Palm/Handspring-style stylus/finger writing recognition (including optional stylus for finer, more precise input) for note taking that ties in with bookmarks and search engine, and how about giving us other personal productivity apps as good and useful as Palm's were?

Lack of cpu power is no excuse for this lack of "innovation" in UI and presentation in ebook readers. Stop behaving like uncreative risk-averse fun-killing MBAs running hollywood productions.

Give it everything Palm Pilot gave its users + an excellent ebook reader. Do something, because iPads sitting on peoples laps does who-knows-what to their gonads.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (4, Informative)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#42093975)

You may have missed the fact that these files are DRM-free and can be stored on any device you like -- including your local computer with your local music.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (2)

Ricochet (16874) | about 2 years ago | (#42095305)

DRM laden? I dl the PDF and put it on my local server. I can then privately access it via my Nook, Android, or any of my home machines.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | about 2 years ago | (#42093997)

At some point, I stopped and realized that it is NOT a good thing to have things centralized and beyond your control. It IS better to own a book which is YOUR copy which does NOT change or disappear. Just as you should own your local music and not stream it from some "cloud". And the same goes for a lot of things.

To an extent, I agree.

I find that electronic books are fine for throwaway fiction - books that, for whatever reason, will only be read and if they were lost, I wouldn't care. But for reference books, I prefer hard copies that I can browse thru at my leisure, leave open on a desk or quickly flip between sections.

The same goes for music. A lot of it is stuff that I'll listen to once or twice, but wouldn't miss it otherwise. For things that I want future generations to know about, I get a more permanent format.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094139)

The same goes for music. A lot of it is stuff that I'll listen to once or twice, but wouldn't miss it otherwise. For things that I want future generations to know about, I get a more permanent format.

Are you burying CDs and record discs in a time capsule in the event of a nuclear apocalypse? No? Then don't worry about it because the rate of error propagation due to aging for physical media is orders of magnitude greater than that of media stored on the Internet. I assure you that your Britney Spears collection that you keep on vinyl will pale in comparison to the quality of an .mp3 (or equivalent) in year 2200 (though, to be fair, your damaged version will sound better).

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (0)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 2 years ago | (#42097047)

I assure you that your Britney Spears collection that you keep on vinyl will pale in comparison to the quality of an .mp3 (or equivalent) in year 2200 (though, to be fair, your damaged version will sound better).

There is nothing that will ever make Britney Spears sound good.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42094207)

But for reference books, I prefer hard copies that I can browse thru at my leisure, leave open on a desk or quickly flip between sections.

open / flipping / browsing don't really do it for me. However I do "grep" them a lot. Search is the killer feature.

The problem for authors and publishers is making their reference ebook better than what you'll find via google.

I've owned and read a lot of oreilly books and they fit 4 classes:
1) anything with "cookbook" in the title = worth the money, best as a searchable ebook
2) anything with "intro" or "learning" in the title = worth the money, best either old fashioned paper or ebook only if you dual monitor or have a dedicated reader device
3) anything purely reference-ish = better off just googling for the answer for free
4) Mix of the above. Think "programming perl". Worth the money. Best off as paper copy for learning, because pure reference stuff will never be looked up, google gets searched first.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (2)

caseih (160668) | about 2 years ago | (#42094257)

The nutshell books are still valuable. I refer to Python in a Nutshell frequently. Yes I could google it, but sometimes skimming a page is actually faster, and the book is layed out in a very logical fashion and it's easy to flip to the right section.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (1)

Jonathan (5011) | about 2 years ago | (#42098079)

That's funny because usually the argument goes the other way -- "Electronic books are fine for reference, but for relaxing with fiction a real book is better". Personally, I prefer electronic books for both, and was even into them in the 1990s on my Palm Pilot before it became mainstream...

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (2)

qazsedcft (911254) | about 2 years ago | (#42094431)

Not everyone likes to carry that 1000+ page brick with them on a bus/train/airplane. Pros and cons like everything in life...

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (4, Insightful)

Hawke (1719) | about 2 years ago | (#42095299)

You posted this in reply to an O'Reilly promotion. You know, the one company who's ebook format is "unencrypted PDF". That one. The one company that CAN NOT take your book away. Where the book won't change unless you want it to. Where you can keep it on your own HD for as long as you can and no one will even know.

That company.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#42095405)

Oh, they could take it away, but that would involve either hacking into your computer or breaking into your house. Both of which are illegal. (Which makes me wonder why remote-deletion isn't?)

"X offers 50% off!" would be nothing but a slashvertisment if it wasn't O'Reilly, one of the few publishers who really understand the geek market.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#42095501)

While O'Reilly does make their work available DRM-free, I take exception to the 'the one company' part of your post. Pearson[1] makes all of their books available in DRM-free PDF and ePub versions from here [informit.com] . O'Reilly may be the underdog in this market, but they're not the only one doing the right thing. They've been providing DRM-free books since at least 2007 (I only started paying attention when they published my first book).

[1] Owner of the Addison Wesley and Prentice Hall brands, among others.

Re:Virtual books are retarded. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42096961)

And at some point, I hope you shut the fuck up and stop whining about shit you don't understand. O'Reilly doesn't have DRM in their files.

Meh (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | about 2 years ago | (#42093903)

Pirate Bay discounts every eBook by 100%.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094001)

> implying TPB has every ebook

Re:Meh (5, Insightful)

stretch0611 (603238) | about 2 years ago | (#42094175)

Pirate Bay discounts every eBook by 100%.

And if we all bought from Pirate Bay, eventually there would no longer be any more quality ebooks.

O'Reilly is a decent publisher. Many of there books are well organized and are worth the money. And unlike the f-ing RIAA/MPAA, their products are DRM-Free. They let you copy it to any device you want; they will even put it directly into your dropbox folder if you would like them to.

Many people who pirate content claim that "if they had the money..." or "if they let me use it on ZZZ device..." Well now is your chance. Everything is on sale, and they do let you use it on any device that can read it Put up or shut up.

For the record, I own about 25 O'Reilly ebooks. I even own a bunch more older titles but I stopped buying printed tech books because I find dropbox and pdfs on my tablet much easier than a broken bookcase and lugging printed material around. (Though I will add the files to my dropbox account manually instead of storing my credentials on their server.)

Re:Meh (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#42094953)

I actually bought a Safari Books Online subscription mainly for O'Reilly content... I don't get my value out of it every month, but it's a really nice idea.

Re:Meh (2)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#42095015)

And if we all bought from Pirate Bay, eventually there would no longer be any more quality ebooks.

No, that's if we only bought from The Pirate Bay.

Re:Meh (1)

jdavidb (449077) | about 2 years ago | (#42096079)

And if we all bought from Pirate Bay, eventually there would no longer be any more quality ebooks.

non sequitur

Re:Meh (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 years ago | (#42096345)

And if we all bought from Pirate Bay, eventually there would no longer be any more quality ebooks.

You mean like those of Stephenie Meyer?

Re:Meh (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#42096437)

This is my point of view as well. People say the RIAA and MPAA prices are outrageous, so they just pirate. I say instead of you don't like the price they are asking for their product, you just shouldn't use their product at all. If you pirate it, they have more ammunition to convince the governments to pass draconian laws which monitor online usage and bring heavy fines against people pirating their copyrighted material. If instead you just completely ignore content that you don't agree with the pricing model on, and find artists and publishers that you do agree with the pricing model on, or go for public domain stuff, you are sending a clear message that you aren't going to pay the prices they are asking. I used to pirate stuff, but I gave that up a while ago. There's no movie/book/album out there that I absolutely have to watch/read/listen to.

Re:Meh (1)

JonMartin (123209) | about 2 years ago | (#42097335)

Right on. I have this argument with friends occasionally. If you don't like the price or some other aspect of the product (eg. having to use Origin for EA games), do the principled thing and don't consume it at all. It is too easy to say prices are too high or DRM is too onerous when you are getting it for free anyways. Real principles aren't easy.

Re:Meh (1)

wallbase (2773553) | about 2 years ago | (#42100205)

Being truly principled is difficult for most people for two reasons:

(1) Being principled requires sacrifice. It means going without, which for someone who's used to pirating lots of games/movies, is the emotional equivalent of cutting off their blood supply. Seems like a very trivial and firstworldproblem issue but it's just an example of a low-cost sacrifice a lot of people can have a tough time dealing with.

(2) Being principled can be dangerous. Stepping in to help someone being beaten up is damn dangerous, and even a principled person has to decide if it's actually going to help, or just end up with two people bashed up instead of one. Or like that one Mexican politician who wasn't corrupt and genuinely tried to face the Mexican drug gangs, who survived two assassination attempts (one of them costing her husband's life) before finally being killed recently. She was principled, and she died for it. Most people won't have to face that level of dedication but they might have to deal with still dangerous issues where it might take someone principled to do the "right thing".

So basically, most people (including myself, make no mistake) like the idea of principles, but only if they don't have any major negative sides to them. Otherwise, they'll decide that they only have one life and it's not worth ruining or sacrificing for no perceptible gain.

Re:Meh (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#42099591)

"If you pirate it, they have more ammunition to convince the governments to pass draconian laws which monitor online usage and bring heavy fines against people pirating their copyrighted material."

That's only true if their "piracy" numbers have any relationship with reality, which is less probable than the sighting of an alien by a drunken redneck being true. Remember, this is the industry than brought us "Hollywood accounting".

Re:Meh (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 2 years ago | (#42096611)

Pirate Bay discounts every eBook by 100%.

And if we all bought from Pirate Bay, eventually there would no longer be any more quality ebooks.

lol, the good old "good things are only made for profit". You must be one direction, just five or other shit of the month fan.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42096927)

Yup, just purchased 2 of them. Glad to pay for a quality product. Piratebay's great but for good content you pay.

No Kindle Paperwhite ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42093923)

No Kindle Paperwhite until the end of the world!

Re:No Kindle Paperwhite ... (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | about 2 years ago | (#42095039)

Yes, but then you have to wait for it to ship.

Is it too late to enter the amateur logo contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42093935)

I just thought of a pair of Dice, snake eyes with a slash running through the one in the foreground.

So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 2 years ago | (#42093953)

If so, then I apologize for thinking we as customers are always being cheated. If on the other hand, selling them at 50% off still returns some profit, something must change. It's that capitalism?

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094069)

Well, in capitalism, it would present you with an opportunity to create your own eBooks at a lower price point and O'reilly would either have to drop their prices or go under. Unless your eBooks are trash and are not worth the cost. In that case O'reilly is justified in their practice and you're just a sour grapes ne'er-do-well.

You see, in capitalism, the change you're looking for is a better or equal product at a lower price point. I know you're probably thinking that the change should be Obama stepping in and forcing O'reilly to lower their price but that's simply short sighted. The market system could work if consumers weren't so lazy and there were people ready to step up to the challenges.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42094077)

[Is] that capitalism?

People paying more for something that it is intrinsically worth? Yes, but in this case it's (possibly) also a loss leader [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#42096277)

[Is] that capitalism?

People paying more for something that it is intrinsically worth? Yes, but in this case it's (possibly) also a loss leader [wikipedia.org] .

Well, actually, it’s economics. We only buy stuff that is worth more than it is intrinsically worth.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_surplus [wikipedia.org]

And it is probably not a loss leader – those are used to suck costumers into a store with the hope that they will buy some full priced items. It you are selling your e-books at a loss, you are not going to make it up by selling in volume. More likely a marketing ploy.

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0135.html [giantitp.com]

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42096629)

[If] you are selling your e-books at a loss... More likely a marketing ploy.

So isn't it a loss leader in that sense? Just one with a few more (and more speculative) steps?

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#42098871)

All loss leaders is a sub-category of discount marketing strategy, but not all discount marketing strategies are loss leaders.

This is generate excitement on Cybermonday – Make people think they are getting a bargain – retain market share (buy from us – not the kindle version on Amazon,). Etc.

A loss leader is, by definition, sold at a loss. If you are selling something at a loss you can’t make it up in volume - it's by selling something else. The classic example is Gillette advertising cheap razor handles (with a few starter blades). They would sell them at a loss, but make up by selling razor blades at the full price. Another example is a convenience store that advertises the lowest priced milk but makes their profit from people stooping in a buying gas.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (3, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#42094167)

If so, then I apologize for thinking we as customers are always being cheated. If on the other hand, selling them at 50% off still returns some profit, something must change. It's that capitalism?

Umm, what? There are so many things wrong with your comment it's hard to know where to start. First of all, being ebooks the cost to O'Reilly per copy is near zero, so obviously they aren't selling at a "loss" at any time. Their normal prices are likely set by 2 factors: a high enough price that they can pay the author and still make a tidy profit, and a low enough price that people will still buy. By lowering prices, they increase the number of copies but lower net profit per unit, which means they might end up making little to no profit over their regular prices (or even less, or more likely a lot more).

However, in no case and no matter what price they set, they are never cheating the customer. The customer pays what he thinks the book is worth. If the price is too high, he has the option of simply not buying. Not like there aren't a million other things he could spend his money on for entertainment or knowledge. That's how capitalism works.

If you're wondering why they don't set the price low permanently, the answer is simple. Some people will pay full price to get the book when or nearly when it comes out. Some will not, and will wait for sales or lowered prices, or simply not buy it if the price doesn't get lowered. Steam is perhaps the best example of this phenomenon. They sell tons of games at full price to people who want it now, and discount them 50-75% later on. The customers know this, and some will wait, while some will not. Either way, all parties involved end up getting what they want.

Prices for electronic "goods" are a lot more complex than "always as low as will still make you some profit on the individual unit".

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094245)

Sounds like you could benefit from one of their writing proficiency books. Also, a company making a profit is not "cheating customers".

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094321)

Also, a company making a profit is not "cheating customers".

It is when they do it using the government-enforced monopoly of near eternal copyright laws. The copyright bargain was broken when the terms became unreasonable and all copyright enforcement can now be regarded as theft from the public domain.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094351)

There's no monopoly anything going on here. No wonder people of your ilk aren't taken seriously. The copyright system needs overhauled, true. But with odd off-hand comments like this it is hard to take it seriously.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#42095285)

Both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson called them monopolies. I guess they can't be taken seriously.

Monoplies tho' in certain cases useful ought to be granted with caution, and guarded with strictness agst abuse. The Constitution of the U. S. has limited them to two cases, the authors of Books, and of useful inventions

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | about 2 years ago | (#42096817)

Except that while there are a lot of publishers abusing copyright to keep things locked down forever, O'Reilly, which publishes computer books, is publishing books that are less than 28 years old and hence would be under copyright even under the original 28 year copyright law that this country started with. No one buys 29 year old computer books.

In fact, O'Reilly public domains their books after 28 years [creativecommons.org] .

There are plenty of complaints about copyright law. Please do not aim them at O'Reilly.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 2 years ago | (#42094401)

It's the same level of economics at work in the Humble Bundle and Steam.

You buy the book from the author for $50,000.
You sell 500 copies at $100 each. You break even. Every sale after that gives you profit.
After a while sales dwindle. Reduce the price by 50% does reduce your profits per book, but you are likely to sell more books, as every book IS a profit.

What you want would be for the companies to make back their costs (plus a modest profit) and then give the book for free, or work out to the unit, how many copies of the book they will ever sell and price accordingly.

If I was an Author, able to publish independently, I'd figure a way to price my books to make back my costs (earn my living) then when I felt I'd done that, put my books up on P2P for free, as that will attract new readers to my next novel. (As seen in some Steam offers where they give you version 1 of a game for free when you preorder 2)

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 2 years ago | (#42094705)

Sure, let's run with the ebooks vs. steam games comparison. Even small indie games take a lot more man-hours and monetary investment to create than the average ebook. A book typically takes one person less than a year to write, and another one or two people a few months to edit. Since we're focusing solely on the e-book here, you don't need to worry about any of the other costs typically involved in creating a book, such as cover design, etc. So if a small indie game that took probably 2x-10x more time to create sells for $5-10 on average, the average ebook should sell for about $.50-$5. Then they throw those same indie games in the bundles that usually bring about $5-10 for about as many games, so the sales for ebooks should be about $.10-$1 per book.

And this is why the vast majority of geeks realize that ebooks are grossly overpriced.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about 2 years ago | (#42095609)

Sure, let's run with the ebooks vs. steam games comparison. Even small indie games take a lot more man-hours and monetary investment to create than the average ebook. A book typically takes one person less than a year to write, and another one or two people a few months to edit. Since we're focusing solely on the e-book here, you don't need to worry about any of the other costs typically involved in creating a book, such as cover design, etc. So if a small indie game that took probably 2x-10x more time to create sells for $5-10 on average, the average ebook should sell for about $.50-$5. Then they throw those same indie games in the bundles that usually bring about $5-10 for about as many games, so the sales for ebooks should be about $.10-$1 per book.

And this is why the vast majority of geeks realize that ebooks are grossly overpriced.

By your argument, paper books should be less than the indie game as well, since printing and shipping costs are really not that high - or so I've heard. (FYI, every e-book I bought has cover art, and they still need to do media promotions, etc). And the editors? They don't work for free and contribute to "the project". That would be like an indie-game developer having to pay for all his artwork and music from a profession artist.

Also, just because it takes 2x-10x more time to do, they should get paid more? Really? So construction for five hours should get paid as much as programming for five hours? I don't think you understand how labor costs work. Also, the writing isn't the hard part (or so I've heard) - it is thinking about what to write. It make take 10 hours for someone to code up a good pong game, but I won't buy it because the idea is stale. His effort isn't worth much.

Also, most writers I know or have heard of are full time writers i.e. they don't do a day job on the side. Except for people who are starting out as writers. And guess what? Like the first indie game a guy-in-his-basement releases, very few people buy the first works of any author (I'm sure you can find exceptions, but I'm talking about the average).

I don't know what the "proper" price for ebooks is. I don't "believe" it is almost the same as a printed book. But I haven't heard any really good arguments either way, since I am not in the industry and I can't fact check where the majority of costs for printed books are.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 2 years ago | (#42096061)

By your argument, paper books should be less than the indie game as well, since printing and shipping costs are really not that high - or so I've heard.

Perhaps, but that's a different discussion. However the interesting thing here is that in many cases, the paperback is actually cheaper than the e-book.

(FYI, every e-book I bought has cover art, and they still need to do media promotions, etc).

An e-book doesn't need that any more than the variety of games you find in the humble bundles, which is what is being compared here. If they choose to pay extra for that, well, that's on them. That doesn't increase the value of the product.

And the editors? They don't work for free and contribute to "the project". That would be like an indie-game developer having to pay for all his artwork and music from a profession artist.

Uh, yeah, and I mentioned editors as part of the cost/time investment in getting a text ready to be published.

Also, just because it takes 2x-10x more time to do, they should get paid more? Really?

I dunno, when I spend more time working I like to get paid more. Don't you?

So construction for five hours should get paid as much as programming for five hours? I don't think you understand how labor costs work.

So then going by that, the per hour cost for creating a game should be a good deal more than writing a book, because it requires good writing skills in addition to other skills.

Also, the writing isn't the hard part (or so I've heard) - it is thinking about what to write.

And any game that is good enough to turn a profit also requires just as much (if not more) thinking about what to put into it.

It make take 10 hours for someone to code up a good pong game, but I won't buy it because the idea is stale. His effort isn't worth much.

And none of the games we're talking about here are stupid shit like yet another pong rehash. Those games don't even make it to Steam. Some of those games in those bundles are pretty damn good, and provide far more hours of entertainment than any e-book you'll ever buy. And they take more time and creativity to produce. Yet they generally sell for less than the average e-book.

Also, most writers I know or have heard of are full time writers i.e. they don't do a day job on the side. Except for people who are starting out as writers. And guess what? Like the first indie game a guy-in-his-basement releases, very few people buy the first works of any author (I'm sure you can find exceptions, but I'm talking about the average).

Which is completely irrelevant in this discussion, because the same applies equally to game developers.

I don't know what the "proper" price for ebooks is. I don't "believe" it is almost the same as a printed book. But I haven't heard any really good arguments either way, since I am not in the industry and I can't fact check where the majority of costs for printed books are.

You also don't have any good arguments either way.

It's pretty obvious why e-books are priced the way they are. The book industry is dominated by large established corporations, and the nature of the industry makes it a lot harder for newcomers to breakout and become popular than in the video-game industry. Thus, the corporations can set whatever prices they want without fear of competition, because the majority of the competition will never be discovered by the customers anyway.

It's different with video games where you not only have word-of-mouth advertising, but you can also see what games your friends are playing (yes, steam can almost always tell you what game your friends are playing even if it's not a steam game), often see how many hours they play it, and talk to them in real-time while you're playing them. As a result, it's much easier for indie games and new developers to make a big splash (Minecraft is a perfect example) and the big players are forced to adapt or die. And guess what - the big players who aren't adapting ARE dying.

So what is the proper price for e-books? The price the market would dictate if the collusion between the big players were abolished. Failing that, the solution is a Steam-like platform for e-books, which works on all e-book readers as well as PCs; one that lets you add friends, see your friends' libraries, see your friends' friends, see what books they're reading at any given time, chat with friends via IM or VOIP, etc. (Some of these features, obviously, would be opt-in.) Create a ubiquitous platform like that for e-books and you'll see the newcomers and indie writers suddenly having some relevance - and just like in the video game industry, the big publishing houses will have to adapt or die.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about 2 years ago | (#42098919)

So then going by that, the per hour cost for creating a game should be a good deal more than writing a book, because it requires good writing skills in addition to other skills.

I see the skill-set as significantly different. While gaming requires imagination (to think of the idea), artwork, and programming, writing (fiction, for fair comparison) requires imagination and literary skills. And while programming well is hard, today's computing facilities are a lot more forgiving with sloppy code. So I find the comparison of writing novels with writing computer games to be a false comparison (maybe I should have just said that instead). Saying the average book takes 1/10th the effort of the average indie game is arbitrary.

It's pretty obvious why e-books are priced the way they are. The book industry is dominated by large established corporations, and the nature of the industry makes it a lot harder for newcomers to breakout and become popular than in the video-game industry. Thus, the corporations can set whatever prices they want without fear of competition, because the majority of the competition will never be discovered by the customers anyway.

On the whole, my experience is finding a good book to read is very hard - even if you actively try to do it. Once you remove the few big names (in any genre), the quality declines rapidly. It isn't just because the publishers are stifling them - look at any major Sci-Fi magazine that accepts submissions from anyone. You get the occasional author who goes on to win Hugo awards, but a majority of the accepted work is junk - and not because big-name publishers are against them. Authors (to a certain extent) do have platforms to launch their careers - magazines and newspapers. But good authors are very rare. And (as I mentioned) I don't think the high prices are only due to anti-competitive behavior; the publishers and big houses also offset a lot of losses by a few big gains (kind of like VC funding).

There also is a platform for indie-authors - the Kindle Direct Publishing. And so far, I haven't found anything even close to what an author - with the backing of a serious publisher - has created. I have, however, found many games that were great without the backing of EA or Blizzard. Either authors understand that the publishers provide services that are worth the reduced royalties, or writing is much harder than programming.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

WolfWalker545 (960367) | about 2 years ago | (#42094891)

How much do you think writers make compared to the time they spend writing? Especially for something that has a limited shelf life like a technical manual?

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 2 years ago | (#42097109)

I think they make a lot more than I do for the time I spend working. But clearly their writing is far more important than anything I'd ever do.

Re:So are those books being sold at a loss? (1)

chromatic (9471) | about 2 years ago | (#42100187)

I think they make a lot more than I do for the time I spend working.

Most technical book authors would be lucky to make minimum wage, especially if they write for the terrible royalty rates major publishers offer.

news? ad? (4, Insightful)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about 2 years ago | (#42093957)

Why is this here?

Re:news? ad? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 2 years ago | (#42094129)

Yeah, really. It's not even that great of a deal, in my view. Manning Publications [manning.com] has a deal of the day and you get discounts like this quite often from them (note, I don't work for them, I have just purchased a few of their books). I'm sure others do as well.

Re:news? ad? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094631)

News for nerds should probably cover a good deal from one of the best known publishers of computer-geek books. Also, it appeared on Hacker News and anything posted there goes to slashdot within 1/2 day (and vice versa) ever since people started calling HN an alternative to slashdot in their slashdot comments.

(I may be biased. I just spent money -- post-decision cognitive dissonance and all that.)

Re:news? ad? - or informative (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 2 years ago | (#42095107)

Because someone submitted it and it got enough recognition to make it to the front page.

And I thank the submitter and those who supported it, I will be making my purchase shortly.

Oh darn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42093961)

Looks like holiday shoppers will just HAVE to shell out for two day shipping on those Kindles.

Advertising For Nerds, Ads That Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094035)

Why is this in the news feed?

That's nice... (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | about 2 years ago | (#42094039)

Why not also discount the hard copies as well? The cost of distribution, printing, and so on is only a small fraction of the cover price. I like to keep a personal library of technical books that won't expire or become useless when the auth-server goes down for good. When I'm done with them, I can either donate them to local libraries, give em to a friend's kid who is in post-secondary, or recycle them if they are truly outdated and irrelevant.

I have been burned by small time eBook publishers, M$'s music store, etc. If you deal in virtual goods, you have no rights, no bargaining power, and you can't even reverse the charges on your credit card due to implicitly signing into an asymmetric legal contract by purchasing them.

Re:That's nice... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#42094223)

I have been burned by small time eBook publishers, M$'s music store, etc. If you deal in virtual goods, you have no rights, no bargaining power, and you can't even reverse the charges on your credit card due to implicitly signing into an asymmetric legal contract by purchasing them.

Which is why I feel absolutely no guilt when I strip the DRM from the ebooks and movies (and, formerly, music) I purchase.

I agree it shouldn't be this way at all - but, for now, my compromise is to only buy digital items if I know I have the means to remove the DRM from them.

Re:That's nice... (2)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 2 years ago | (#42094233)

It's been said before, but it may need to be a rebuttal to every instance of this silliness on this thread: These eBooks are not DRMed, or auth'ed, etc. What you get is the ability to download the eBook in one of several versions, including PDF, with which you can do whatever the hell you want, without checking in with their server ever again.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094983)

The cost of distribution, printing, and so on is only a small fraction of the cover price.

Not sure about cover price, but distribution alone is 80% of the cost of producing the book. Hard copies weigh something... shipping isn't cheap. Printing cost is likely going up as well as demand goes down (which is the opposite of what you'd expect, but printing presses cost fortunes... must be paid for somehow).

Re:That's nice... (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 2 years ago | (#42095029)

Hard copies have a lot of other additional costs involved that digital copies do not.

Things like:

- Attractive cover design
- Shelf space at a store (not applicable to etailers like Amazon of course)
- Climate-controlled storage warehouse before they get to the store
- Shipping during various stages (don't forget packing material costs)

And then of course there's the other actual costs of printing that you already mentioned, which can be fairly expensive if you go with high-quality materials and a high-quality production process.

Even though those costs may seem trivial, for a book that sells any significant number of copies, the total in extra costs incurred for the hard copies is still almost certainly more than the costs actually involved in producing a production-ready text (writing & editing).

tide goes in, tide goes out... can't explain that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42095337)

Re:That's nice... (2)

lengau (817416) | about 2 years ago | (#42096165)

Have you checked O'Reilly's stance on their ebooks [oreilly.com] ?

Whenever possible we provide them to you in several DRM-free file formats — PDF, ePub, Kindle-compatible .mobi, and DAISY — that you can use on the devices of your choice.

Furthermore:

Lending: If you buy an O'Reilly ebook from oreilly.com, you may lend it to another person, provided that you do not retain any copies of the book after you lend it. This is the same as the situation when you lend a used print copy—when you lend the copy, you deliver it to the buyer and no longer have a copy in your library. If you have bought a hard copy/ebook bundle, you may of course retain the hard copy, if you lend the ebook.

Resale: If you buy an O'Reilly ebook, when you are done with it you may resell it, provided that you do not retain any copies of the book after you sell it. This is the same as the situation when you sell a used print copy—when you sell the copy, you deliver it to the buyer and no longer have a copy in your library. If you have bought a hard copy/ebook bundle, you may of course retain the hard copy, if you sell the ebook.

You can pretty much get this discount all year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094043)

Every other day O'Reilly have things like "buy one get one free" "50% off if you buy two" etc.

It was only a matter of time (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094049)

At long last, Slashdot and Woot! have merged into this fantastic, multi-pronged marketing bonanza whose efficiencies are finally being fully leveraged.

Amazon's also offering 80% discounts (2)

destinyland (578448) | about 2 years ago | (#42094079)

Amazon's also discounted thousands of ebooks by 80% today. (James Gleick's "Chaos" is just $2.02, and you can buy an ebook version of Einstein's Theory of Relativity for 99 cents!)

http://www.beyond-black-friday.com/2012/11/26/80-discounts-on-kindle-ebooks-for-cyber-monday/ [beyond-black-friday.com]

Re:Amazon's also offering 80% discounts (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42094297)

The DRM one has to discount by 80% to get sales, the non-DRM one only has to discount by 50% to get sales.
Interesting. That would imply DRM impairs demand, shoving the price lower by about 30%. That's a lot of profit amazon is leaving on the table apparently by demanding pointless DRM.

Re:Amazon's also offering 80% discounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094971)

You're not taken into consideration that customers are less likely to switch to an alternate eReader when their entire collection is DRM. So by using DRM not only is the customer more likely to keep buying upgraded Kindles, but also more likely to keep buying Amazon store ebooks (because who wants to manage a multiple DRM bookshelf?).

So the question becomes what is worth economical to Amazon: locking customers into their platform and essentially forcing them to continue buying new Kindles and ebooks, or getting mildly better rates on discounted materials by going DRM-free?

*Note, I purposefully left out whatever increase in sales they get from using DRM-free products, because I assume that would only account for a very marginal percentage at best.

Re:Amazon's also offering 80% discounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099693)

DRM was demanded by the publishers, not Amazon.

Re:Amazon's also offering 80% discounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094393)

Shouldn't it be public domain? I mean really, I'm pretty sure the dude is dead, I think there was an article about his brain a few days ago, it would be pretty strange if he wasn't dead. You know?

Re:Amazon's also offering 80% discounts (1)

DavidTC (10147) | about 2 years ago | (#42096907)

Einstein being dead doesn't make it public domain. Einstein actually hasn't been dead long enough (70 years) to make all his works public domain. That's not until 2025.

However, the fact it's a scientific theory and never was copyrighted makes it (duh) public domain. (Yes, yes, stuff published _now_ is automatically copyrighted...but not back then.)

How is this better than the $5 ebooks? (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 2 years ago | (#42094447)

O'Reilly used to offer ebooks for any edition that you "owned" (and by owned, they want you to type in an ISBN number), they would sell you the ebook for $5.
Haven't needed any books in awhile and haven't looked at their site lately.

Re:How is this better than the $5 ebooks? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 2 years ago | (#42097195)

So basically, if you already own the hard copy, we'll sell you a digital copy that costs us nothing for just $5! Wow, what a generous offer!

How about this instead: for a $5 yearly fee, you can download any ebooks for free if you already own the hard copy. Now that's an offer I could get on board with.

Re:How is this better than the $5 ebooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42097277)

The $5 ebook deal is great because the only thing they ask to prove you own the book is the ISBN number which is just a quick Amazon search away. I've bought a book or two that way.

thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094565)

Thanks for the advance notice, fuckheads.

I haven't got time to see what I want, much less check what's already on pirate bay & usenet.

Apress has an even better sale apparantly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094669)

Apress (www.apress.com) apparently is selling all their ebooks for $15

Re:Apress has an even better sale apparantly (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 2 years ago | (#42094837)

So you can buy their entire catalog for the total sum of $15? Because that's about the only way that could be a good sale. And even that's questionable without knowing what they've got in their catalog.

These are NOT BOOKS!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42095047)

These are NOT BOOKS! These are files. I wish people would that straight. Thank you for listening.

Re:These are NOT BOOKS!!!!! (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about 2 years ago | (#42097229)

Mod up informative.

Come back to the news (1)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#42095085)

When they'll slice also the prices of printed books.

not a bad deal but... (1)

Copperhamster (1031604) | about 2 years ago | (#42095119)

I know Kindle DRM is 'teh evilz' but I bought two of their books a few weeks ago off Amazon for my Kindle. Not on sale or anything.

50% off the O'Reilly site price for both books would have saved me about $2.

I don't know if that's relevant or anything but just commenting. (For the interested, they were of the type 'read this through for a good grounding in the subject better than what you'd get digging through 500 pages on google'. They really helped with the projects I was working on, and probably saved me 3-4 extra days of research dead ends and half truths.)

Kindle Fire? No Thanks! Don't send one overseas... (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about 2 years ago | (#42095195)

Display started to show a bright about after a month. Earlier this month a whole line of pixels died. Support? Yeah, only if you live in the USA. I got the KF as a Christmas present last year. Since I live in Mexico having the thing replaced under warranty costs well over 100 USD. So Bezos, if you want to give me a great Christmas: shove a KF so far up your ass that the light of the backlight shines out of your nostrils. If you do, I will gladly offer mine at no additional cost.

See also: http://johnbokma.com/mexit/2012/03/04/kindle-fire-outside-usa-beware.html [johnbokma.com]

In short: don't send a Kindle Fire overseas. Amazon can't ship the KF after repairs so it will be very expensive

Re:Kindle Fire? No Thanks! Don't send one overseas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42097303)

How is this at all relevant to the article?

And if we are going so off-topic - Why are you buying a product not sold in your country and expecting it to be supported?

Still cheaper on amazon (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about 2 years ago | (#42095331)

I just checked a few books, but amazon beat them. Kindle was considerably cheaper and paperback was about the same as the half off ebook.

big data / machine learning (2)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#42096465)

I was in the mood to buy a DRM-free ebook or two at the discount price, but after five minutes at O'Reilly I gave up the hunt. There's no category in the subject index for big data / machine learning. And neither did I quickly identify a filter on level of presentation. No, I don't need a quick review of the data structures in R.

I found a free download entitled "Big Data Now: 2012 Edition". There are some tidbits of interest in here, but over all it's a little too button-down for my tastes. It mentioned Apache Mahoot for machine learning. Hey, I'd buy an intermediate to advanced book on that at half price--if such a book existed.

One of the problems with buying on price opportunity is that you frame the problem of "given this pile, what's best for me" instead of "given what's best for me, is there anything of note in this pile at all". I'm reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow and presently basking in the availability glow of just how stupid humans are, most of the time. We're idiots for framing and anchoring effects.

I mean, I nearly rolled off the bed in hysterics last night when I read that most people find it easy enough to list six occasions where they have behaved assertively (and this activity causes them to report having an assertive personality) but asking people to list twelve occasions where they've been assertive is hard work and causes people to doubt that they are really so assertive after all. Twelve considered difficult? I don't need no book on big data, I can type it in by hand in JSON notation wherever the need arises. I'm assertive pretty much whenever I sit at a keyboard or open my mouth or pull up to a four-way traffic control. You know, in a group setting you don't need to control the outcome. One can accomplish a lot by quietly (yet assertively) trimming away the worst stupidities. Well-timed application of the pruning shears to group psychology seems assertive enough to me.

I have a recommendation shelf at Goodreads for the narrow category "Computer Science". This presently includes many O'Reilly book: Regular Expressions, Haskell, JavaScript, TCP/IP. Someday, if Goodreads exploits big data in some useful way, this might actually feature the books from O'Reilly where there was any chance in hell of me making a purchase.

First suggestion: refine the "not interested" button to include "been there, done that". Regular expressions are way cool for the first decade of one's programming career.

Re:big data / machine learning (2)

Saxophonist (937341) | about 2 years ago | (#42096821)

I'm not saying it's definitely what you want, but:

http://shop.oreilly.com/category/get/data-science-kit.do [oreilly.com]

That page was advertised on the front page of the site. Maybe these books are too basic; as you said, you don't need a quick review of data structures in R. But, they do at least have something.

I agree, though: I can't get very excited about e-book deals when I'm not sure of a topic in which one would be compelling anymore.

No paypal (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 2 years ago | (#42096631)

No paypal = no sale.

*sniffs* (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42096685)

I smell desperation in the guise of sales. Just go die, bro.

O'Reilly slashdotted (2)

Lythn (965096) | about 2 years ago | (#42098007)

O'Reilly offers huge sale, takes down their site

Sounds like a great deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42098227)

it's just too bad it's a Kindle.

WTB (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42098327)

The joy of sex.

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