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Internet Publishing Can Pay Off

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the two-bits dept.

The Media 161

An anonymous reader writes "Leander Kahney of Wired News has an article (Net Publishing Made Profitable) about how the publishers of the free, online newsletter TidBITS have hit the jackpot with their highly focused Take Control ebook series (nicely formatted PDFs that are easy to read on screen or print). Authors earn 50% royalties, and the books cost $5 or $10, with free updates. All the books out right now are about Mac topics, but maybe they'll branch out in the future."

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Hi (-1, Offtopic)

FosterKanig (645454) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965028)

So what are you all doing this evening?

Re:Hi (0, Offtopic)

chamcham (647769) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965045)

soaking up water that hurricane charlie forced through the weather strip on my front door. the home server and computers are fine... and my friends thougt i was crazy for having a 3000va ups at home: protect the uptime.

Re:Hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965082)

Any chance of this storm wiping out that nest of Florida spammers in Boca Raton ?

A/S/L? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965048)

cyber?

Hmmm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965049)

Slashdot...

Friday Night...

Masturbating?

Re:Hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965092)

So what are you all doing this evening?

It's daytime here you insensitive clod. And while I am at it, how do you expect to get replies if you go and get yourself modded -1? Hih? Huh?

Waiting for these to show up on Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965033)

Astroturfing? was: Re:Waiting for these to... (0, Offtopic)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965055)

Is this an example of the astroturfing [slashdot.org] we were warned about?

Re:Astroturfing? was: Re:Waiting for these to... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965073)

Are you an example of this [rr.com] ?

Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (5, Interesting)

melted (227442) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965037)

Now these books will appear on every god damn P2P network out there.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965059)

And that's a bad thing?

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1)

motardo (74082) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965070)

well, good think they're mac books ;)

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (5, Interesting)

Synesthesiatic (679680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965152)

Now these books will appear on every god damn P2P network out there.

For those too lazy to RTFA: None of the books has any kind of copy protection, though Adobe's PDF format contains various digital-rights management mechanisms. "It's not worth doing it all, because it just causes problems," Engst said.
...Engst asks his customers to treat the books as they would physical books: Feel free to share with a couple of friends, but don't post them on the Net. Engst has been aware of no abuse, and none of the books has shown up on file-sharing networks.

Now admittedly I download now and then, but in this instance we've got a content producer that is:
- Small and independent
- Compensating writers fairly
- Charging a very reasonable price
- Choosing not to use DRM, despite having the option to do so, and even *gasp* encouraging people to share with their friends.

I have nothing but contempt for someone that would violate the copyright on this. After all, isn't this the direction the Slashthink wants the music industry to take?

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1, Interesting)

TyrranzzX (617713) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965232)

But the content's got to be worth it ;). We've got this new tech that can copy things all over and circulate ideas like wildfire, yet money always gets in the way because writers have got to eat.

I think they'd make more money by providing the books for the cost of download ($2 or $3 a e-book) and then offering exclusive paperbacks/hardbacks to people who want them at $20 or $30 a pop, or they can offer books that'll last forever for mroe. After a year, they begin throwing books up free to download with advertisements in the front and back for paperbacks. The good books will gross a lot of sales for paperbacks, as the demand for them is still there. If I had the money I'd certainly buy or print a number of books I have, and a few (scabbed wings of abadon, www.rantradio.ca for that one) I *REALLY* want a paperback of, not only because the book is so damn kewl, but so I can loan it to friends.

An electronic medium can is only as good as it's medium, but a good book can last years. Frankly, without DRM authors will be doomed, and with DRM people will be doomed since multinationals will seek to lisence everything. I can't really see any middleground right now. People really can't make money selling intangible objects like data because once data is created it can be copied at nearly no cost. They can make money at selling tangible objects, like paperbacks, however.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (3, Insightful)

Synesthesiatic (679680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965293)

Frankly, without DRM authors will be doomed, and with DRM people will be doomed since multinationals will seek to lisence everything. I can't really see any middleground right now. People really can't make money selling intangible objects like data because once data is created it can be copied at nearly no cost. They can make money at selling tangible objects, like paperbacks, however.

But it's been shown time and time again that the DRM is just big media's security blanket. CSS, FairPlay and Adobe's eBook DRM have all been cracked. Sure there's some technical knowledge required, but it only takes one person to share it on Kazaa before it's everywhere. Does this mean big media (the greedy middlemen, in most cases) is doomed? Possibly.

But that doesn't necessarily mean artists are left out in the cold. I know it might be hard to remember in the iTunes age, but I remember the first online music store worth giving a crap about was eMusic [emusic.com] , because it was the only major player without major DRM restrictions (and it actually had none, since it used MP3s). We don't hear much about eMusic anymore, but the fact that it's still around says something: there's money to be made selling unprotected content. Maybe the multi-millionaire musicians are in danger, but as a whole I think artists might just come out on top by replacing the recording industry with an indie label and an online music store.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965342)

The problem is that small print runs have extremly high per-unit costs. You would be looking at a run of several thousand paperbacks, and even more for hardbacks, to be able to offer them at any kind of sane price.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965470)

http://www.futureprint.kent.edu/articles/henke01.h tm

http://www.bookmachine.com/news_dal.html

Per-unit costs can be reasonable even for single-copy runs. Actually there's at least one machine specializing in single-copy runs, but I can't find that company on Google right now...

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965531)

Did you even bother to read the links? The machine costs $65,000. At $20 a pop, and figuring, say, $7.50 per book for the paper, ink, parts, power, labor, etc, that's a profit of $12.50 per book. Which means you'd need to sell over 4,000 copies before you could even think about breaking even, much less MAKING money.

small writers co op (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965584)

a small (whatever size is needed I mean) writers co-op might work, they all chip in and get one machine for those various small runs. It's a possibility anyway.

To me it's like distros, I can't afford full price ones, and I can't download being on dialup, so the clone copy/sellers hit the sweet spot with me at price and convenience. Books might be a similar deal for a lot of people. I prefer dead trees myself for reading, but I can get by with digital on the screen, but it just doesn't feel the same and isn't as comfortable. A lot of people are just going to be incredibly cheap about it and always try to find comopletely free, but enough would be willing to pay reasonable fees. To me,cash wise were I the producer of the book or software or music or video, and needed some coin for it, reasonable and some is better than unreasonable and none.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965720)

Dude, the machine is NOT meant to be purchased by each individual writer :-)

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (3, Insightful)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965446)

>I think they'd make more money by providing the books for the cost of download ($2 or $3 a e-book) and then offering exclusive paperbacks/hardbacks to people who want them at $20 or $30 a pop, or they can offer books that'll last forever for more.

If someone did that, I'd print hardbacks in China and sell them on eBay at $10 a pop.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965815)

We've got this new tech that can copy things all over and circulate ideas like wildfire, yet money always gets in the way because writers have got to eat.

Actually it's the writers who get in the way. Don't anthropomorphize money. It's the writers who decide to wait until they find someone willing to pay them before they release their works.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (1, Insightful)

pgnas (749325) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965711)

"I have nothing but contempt for someone that would violate the copyright on this"

geesh, does anyone get it? anyone?

"Small and independent"

ok, their small, I applaud their zeal to break some new ground, I truly wish them well! What does that have to do with anything? Do you steal or encourage/condone stealing from Walmart ( after all, they are BIG)?

"Compensating writers fairly"

complete rubbish! Do you feel you are compensated fairly? if not, is it ok then to steal from your employer? What is fair? eveyone has a different opinion of fair, fair is over-rated, nothing is fair.
Are you suggesting that "artists" like Brittney Spears are not being "fairly" compensated? I tell you who isn't be compensated fairly, the engineers who work miracles with her "talent".

"Charging a very Reasonable Price"

You know, you almost got me on that one, however riddle me this: what is reasonable? this is another ridiculous word that everyone has their own opinion of. This is a CAPITALISTIC society, prices are determined by what people are willing to pay, if people stop buying, trust me, they will be forced to lower their prices(whoever they are.

"Choosing not to use DRM"

what is the problem with DRM? if it can be delivered to you in a "reasonable" manner by which you can enjoy the book, music, video, what-ever, than what is the problem in someone trying to prevent you from rifling out copies to all of your friends, neighbors and the entire Kazaa network? If it's worth it, and you want it, you will pay for it.

There is simply no justification for stealing.

Re:Good thing you've mentioned them on Slashdot (3, Insightful)

huchida (764848) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965706)

Now these books will appear on every god damn P2P network out there.

With titles like "Take Control of Email with Apple Mail" and "Take Control of What's New in Entourage 2004", I seriously doubt there're many P2P users interested in the titles. If they can figure out how to access the networks in OSX (which takes a bit more savviness than downloading Kazaa for Windows) they probably have enough knowledge to "master" their e-mail programs. (Who's using Entourage anymore, anyway? I didn't know they even updated it!)

Anyone else think these books are overpriced, considering the low-level topics? Ten dollars for an electronic pamphlet on how to share files in Panther? I just bought a three hundred page (real) book on DVD Studio Pro for twenty!

Music (4, Insightful)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965038)

I've often wondered why this very business method wouldn't work in the music business. Part of the problem, I think, is that music success nowadays is too dependant on radio. The whole indy process keeps those that can't afford to push bribe their way into radio stations from being heard. I think this is a business method that Apple should embrace with iTunes. The artist could pay $X dollars to sell their music on iTunes. The artist could then make 50% of the procedes. Apple could even charge to burn the music to CDs and mail it out. I think this would work very well.

Re:Music (1)

lavaface (685630) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965116)

music success nowadays is too dependant on radio. The whole indy process keeps those that can't afford to push bribe their way into radio stations from being heard.

That's why college radio rules! I used to think it was a bunch of weird noise and crap, but as I've matured, I find a great deal of new music from the college radio stations. I rarely stray right of 92 on the FM dial. Then agian, perhaps I'm just lucky to live in Atlanta, where we have several wonderfully diverse stations on the lower end of the spectrum. Not sure how worthy it is elsewhere. Anybody?

Not in Fort Wayne (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965497)

The FM band in 88.1 through 91.9 MHz in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has two Christian stations (one operated by a university), one NPR classical station, and one NPR talk radio station. Unlike many towns, we don't have secular college radio.

Magnatune.com is trying to do that (1)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965124)

The artist could then make 50% of the procedes

You've even guessed correctly the percentage that the artist gets from each sale.

As long as they cover the genre's that you like, they've got some great music. Highly recommended.

Re:Music (3, Informative)

nkh (750837) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965512)

But Magnatune [magnatune.com] has a lot of great music you can try before you buy, it's cheap (between $5 and 18$, it's for you to decide), you can choose your own file format once you have paid: Vorbis, mp3, FLAC, WAV... and the artists get 50% of the price.

Wow. Time to Publish... (1)

dbottaro (302069) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965043)

Windows for Linux Users! Text File format Only.

Ahem - First Post :-D

FP? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965056)

you fail it.

Re:FP? (0, Offtopic)

dbottaro (302069) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965118)

Yep - more like 4th post - looked like a good shot at the time I wrote it

Effects of free online publishing? (5, Interesting)

oostevo (736441) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965050)

This is great news for internet publishers and people who like to read books on the internet, but I'd be quite interested to know the effects of offering a book online for free while concurrently releasing it in print, like several of our favorite computer manuals.

Re:Effects of free online publishing? (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965160)

Baen has done it [baen.com] , and it worked great. Cory Doctorow has done it [craphound.com] (I think his publisher is Tor), and it worked great. I've done it [lightandmatter.com] , and it worked great.

Re:Effects of free online publishing? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965453)

Someone actually stole my Halliday & Resnick out of my back hall. It was a third edition, so they hardly did so for current class work. I was shocked and stunned to find out what a current edition goes for.

I've bookmarked your page. I'll look over your stuff. If I like what I see you just might get some of my money one of these days, as well as the money of those who ask me for recommendations.

Hey, maybe you're right and this giving away samples thingy works great.

I know I enjoy the cheese.

KFG

Re:Effects of free online publishing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965491)

WTF are you talking about? First of all, I don't understand at all what you meant and second, all I'm doing is asking for some advise. F-U if you're talking to me!

American stupidity or political correctness ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965077)

The correct term is "titbit" not "tidbit".
Some dumb marketing moron probably thought it was offensive.

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (2, Interesting)

GeekBird (187825) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965094)

In the US it's spelled "tidbit", and has been for many years. Linguistic drift due to American cultural puritanism at its finest, but the term is here to stay. Remember the whole Janet Jackson boob blowup...

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (1)

CaptainCheese (724779) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965178)

If titbit blows some tiny american mind, find that person and discuss the nesting habits of the Great Tit with them...

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (2, Informative)

irongrip (804481) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965238)

According to Dictionary.com [reference.com] , it's either.

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965401)

her boobs were blowup? well they must have been underinflated when they came out during the superbowl.

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (2, Funny)

grolschie (610666) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965110)

Dude you fail it. Even googlewar [googlewar.com] says so. ;-)

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965120)

Google is an american company and therefore doesn't know any better.

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965139)

duh, it's nothing to do with google the "company" per se, but instead the sheer number of pages that use the correct spelling vs those that don't.

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (3, Interesting)

Okonomiyaki (662220) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965394)

Languages are OSS for your brain. Anyone is free to contribute to them, expand them, specialize them toward some particular purpose and those changes are given freely back to the community. The community then automatically decides if those changes were beneficial or not and either adopts them or doesn't. For the english language alone there are dozens of distributions available that are all more or less interoperable. If your distro does something a little different than someone else's that doesn't mean either is right or wrong. Differences are bound to pop up, some exist for a reason, others are basically arbitrary. As someone who uses the distro you're criticizing, I'll just say that the alternative spelling you've suggested seems a little awkward to pronounce while the one we use flows easily.

Anyway, my point is that you are free to contribute to English or any other human language as much as you want but you must remember that you don't own any of them even if one of them happens to be named after your nationality.

Re:American stupidity or political correctness ? (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965520)

Under this analogy, wouldn't female dogging about deviations from an English "standard" correspond to female dogging about deviations from specifications such as Single UNIX [opengroup.org] , LSB [linuxbase.org] , or GNOME HIG [gnome.org] ?

eBooks are great. (5, Insightful)

g-to-the-o-to-the-g (705721) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965079)

I personally love ebooks. I have a $100 Palm m500, which has a backlight, so I can read without having to worry about the lighting or turning the page. Not to mention, I can have 50 books on a SD card. Why more people haven't caught on, I don't know. My favourite part is laying in bed and reading until I fall asleep (which is convenient, seeing as the thing powers itself off eventually, and I don't have to worry about the lights).

Aswell, I've heard other people criticize the whole ebook thing because they think its not as clear (to look at) or something. If you doubt me, you should just walk into a best buy or something and play with them yourself.

Re:eBooks are great. (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965206)

Reasons this type of ebook was an abysmal failure:
  • proprietary formats
  • expensive readers, which may be obsolete instantly, and require you to buy into a format that may fail
  • digital books that are sold at the same price as paper books, even though for most purposes, most people prefer paper
  • tiny, lame catalogs

eBooks can be great (2, Insightful)

gidds (56397) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965477)

The key there is when you said 'this type'. I agree that e-books as something in a proprietary format, which only work on dedicated machines, is stupid.

However, e-books as I use and love 'em are a very different beast. I have a large library (>100MB) of stuff in Palm DOC format -- an open format, easily convertible to/from plain text. (This means I can edit the texts as needed to fix formatting, errors, convert to British English spellings, &c.) I keep them on my Psion 5mx -- a PDA that I already carry in my pocket anyway. I read them on its 640x240 backlit LCD, which I find easy enough on my eyes. I get them from various sources; legit ones include Fictionwise [fictionwise.com] , which has a reasonable range of DRM-free stuff, though the biggest names are DRM-only; author's web sites Gutenberg; Baen Books; and various others.

The advantages are numerous: I always have reading material, without having to carry a book around with me, so when I find myself sitting in trains or in the Chinese take-away, the time's never wasted. I always have reference material to refer to (dictionaries, 3 Bible translations, the Jargon File, you name it -- shortly to include a full cut of Wikipedia), and can quote straight from my favourite books. I don't need to faff around with bookmarks. I can read in bed with the lights out. I have backups. I don't need to buy any more bookcases (and I've got enough already...) And so on. I'm not saying this would be right for you; but it certainly works for people like the grandparent poster and me.

Re:eBooks are great. (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965220)

I have an m515, and a kyocera smartphone with whats basically equivalent built in.. I've read some ebooks, and found that it annoyed my eyes, too muchh of it gives me a headach. It's just a little bit too small. Guess I'm getting too old.

It's convenient to have on site, I got a bunch of relevent technical manuals, but dead tree is still much easier on my eyes. Maybe a device about the size of a paperback, maybe one the size of a hardback too for when my vision deteriorates a little more.

Stupid CRTs.

Re:eBooks are great. (1)

Cyn (50070) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965553)

I've had a Palm IIIxe, a Sony T415, and a Zaurus C7x0 - and I enjoy reading on all of them.

I think the key point, is that it be easy on the eyes. If you're reading in bed, with all the lights out - the backlight has to be very dim. I can turn the backlight on my c7x0 down enough that it's pretty nice - but even though its screen is much higher resolution than the other two, the other two are better at being read for long periods of time (in the dark). That's not to say I don't do it and enjoy it, but I stub my toes more when shuffling off after reading on my Z, because my eyes are more tired (and have a higher burn in from the brighter light).

It could also have to do with the fact that it's backlit with a strong white light, while the other two were subtler green lumin jobs.

Yes, but (2, Insightful)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965091)

Mac users like/can pay for stuff.

Beginning with their ridiculously overpriced PPC's, to iTunes, shareware software...

Your typical Linux geek or Windows pirate isn't really used to the concept of "paying for computer stuff". He just downloads it. Can it work?

Then again, good weblogs can lead to dead-trees publishing deals. I hope someone will pick me up some time :)

Re:Yes, but (2, Interesting)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965148)

You're gonna get EATEN alive by the mods. But you hit the nail on the head. I've lost a lot of mod points myself trying to explain to people,that the only reason Apple can do the things it does is because there is a legion of fanboys willing to purchase whatever stupid idea steve jobs dreams up at a 30% markup. Apple is a *BRAND* like Nike. For my money I'd rather wear my insanely comfortable TX Traction shoes which cost 39.99 instead of Nike's which cost 3x as much. Same damn thing with my computer. My identity is not my brand of computer.

IPOD? Had it back when it was called the Archos Jukebox, nobody cared. Itunes? Had it when it was called "eMusic.com" Nobody praised emusic or archos as visionaries. I wasn't a cosmopolitan hipster for having these things.

Re:Yes, but (1)

Quobobo (709437) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965224)

Ehh, you deserve to get eaten alive by the mods. Sneakers are not a valid comparison at all. Do you really believe that having a completely different OS is the same as having slightly different shoes?

(don't mod this up, it's a 1 minute response)

Re:Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965605)

Can you explain why it's a bad comparison? Otherwise STFU.

Re:Yes, but (1)

Quobobo (709437) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965933)

Can you figure out basic things without me holding your hand (like how a modern OS is a hell of a lot more complicated than a shoe)?

Re:Yes, but (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965241)

So, you make that sound like a bad thing.

Mac users are scavengers -- when I'm in geek mode, I build computers with scraps. When I want something that works without having to think about it -- I go with a Mac.

Is it a brand? Fuck yes its a brand. Why do folks go with certain brands? Because they are built well enough that they have gone past just making them work, they make them look good too. I know PC users that have bought great looking PC components and thought that was all there was to the Mac Fanboys and bragged about having a machine that looked just as good to me -- unfortunately, it was also me that he asked to fix it all the time, and I never failed to tell him that if he had a mac, this wouldn't happen.

So, you'd rather use something that is cheaper and almost as good. Fine. Some of think that its that 10% that is better *IS* worth paying 3x as much. That 10% is time that you are not working...I've paid for my Macs time after time...hell a week after getting my new Powerbook I was showing a friend iMovie...he needed some video edited for a 30 second commercial, and while I have FinalCut, he wanted to see it done in that easy to use app. I was paid $500 for that commercial. Not bad for a free piece of software, and it paid a forth of my machine right then and there.

As for iTunes vs. eMusic? There is no choice...iTunes wins out. I've tried eMusic and if they'd polish it up (and I'm not talking about the fucking graphics), it might had had a chance. As for Archos Jukebox, I picked up several MP3 players because I didn't want to pay the Apple Tax and thought they were all the same. I still have one or two that I couldn't return (and my girlfriend thought they were too fucking geeky to use to even give them to her). A friend from Apple sent me one as a loaner and told me if I didn't like it, I could send it back...if I liked it, he'd sell it to me...I've had that Gen1 iPod for a couple of years now. It was the only device that felt natural and didn't feel like either a computer interface on a box or a limited device that was confusing to use.

Pretend all you want that its just fanboys that make Apple what it is and the idea of shiny chick magnet electronics (ok thats a bit useful -- no girls ever asked about my work provided dell, but I've had a few dozen ask my about my Powerbook -- actually they liked my old iBook more) -- its because Apple pays attention to detail in ALL areas. OSX is my new unix. I'll still run Linux for my servers, but I have no need to ever consider it on the desktop again...

Re:Yes, but (1)

clifyt (11768) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965402)

I reread that, I should have previewed (but then it wouldn't be /. -- I make sure I turn off Safari's spell check before I show up here).

The opening lines should be:

Mac users are NOT scavengers.

Changes the whole idea...

Re:Yes, but (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965645)

Ya had me scratching my head for a few minutes there. :)

KFG

Re:Yes, but (2, Insightful)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965838)

Amen to that!

I'm a new convert to the Mac religion, after about 7 years of Linux at home and Windows at work, and many years of DOS and Windows before that. I just picked up my first Mac (a Powerbook) recently. The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the power adapter. Yes, the power adapter. It impressed the hell out of me, mostly because of what it boded for the design of the rest of the system. When something as seemingly mundane as the power adapter displays the elegance of design, and thought given user convenience, that the Apple power adapter does, you can pretty much count on the computer itself being a joy to use. And it has been so far. I definitely understand why Apple has so many devoted fans now.

Re:Yes, but (0, Flamebait)

huchida (764848) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965661)

How'd this troll get marked up to "interesting?"

Anyway... May be hard for you to believe, but some of us buy a computer based on, say, our fucking careers. If you're in a creative field, you'll probably use a Mac. That's just the way it is, it's a better experience, and if you don't understand why that us, that's fine. I wouldn't expect you to justify your choice of system to me.

Oh, and the "30% markup" is only for those who must buy the latest and greatest from the Apple store at the mall. If you can stomach the idea of buying last year's latest-and-greatest from a reseller like Powermax or Smalldog, you can get amazing deals. Not that you should buy one, I could care less if you use a Mac.

Re:Yes, but (4, Insightful)

lavaface (685630) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965184)

I'm cheap. Well, poor. But I bought a Powerbook (with student loans : ) because video work on a PC blows. For many users a Mac is overpriced. But for folks that like a machine that offers a smooth user experience with well-designed apps [apple.com] bundled, it's a dream.

Because of the audience (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965098)

Mac users are used to paying for things. Software, shareware, etc. Linux users expect everything for free, and Windows users just pirate it.

Re:Because of the audience (0, Troll)

Quobobo (709437) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965555)

Bullshit. Have you ever checked out the Mac-specific piracy scene? Bittorrent, Carracho, and others, all with tons of software being pirated. On top of that, what about the (not going to mention name here) Mac database of serial numbers that's regularily kept up to date? Mac users pirate just as much as other users if you ask me.

Re:Because of the audience (1)

downbad (793562) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965723)

Surfers' Serials

PDF Books Online... (2, Informative)

Liskl (793809) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965125)

based on this news here i'd love to see more of my favorite e-zines to be in pdf format

2600.com
phrack.org

i know others i've talked to would love them in downloadable pdf format even if we had to pay for them

what do other /.'ers think about phrack.org using txt and pdf for there following issues

Re:PDF Books Online... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965387)

Phrack would be great if it had pictures for some of the hardware projects.

about the formats (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965604)

pdf is good for many things. and with adobe's tagged pdf's that's ok but for small files/zines like phrack and 2600, txt is ok. If you could include in the tagged pdf the code in the actual "example.cpp" and have tiff schematics that would seriously be awesome.

not sure if it'll change, but i'd pay for the 2600 one. and maybe phrack if they substantially changed their format to include binaries, code and images that were embedded into the document.

just perhaps

Doesn't Always Work (3, Interesting)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965135)

Just look at when Stephen King tried to do a similar system with "The Plant." Sales were so abysmal that he didnt even finish it after writing a few parts.

See the story http://slashdot.org/features/00/11/30/1238204.shtm l [slashdot.org]

Re:Doesn't Always Work (4, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965182)

IIRC, sales were actually OK, but not as high as the target he'd set. It was a very atypical case anyway, because he was such a popular author. His books normally sold a lot of copies, and he expected to make a boatload of money off of each one. It's a whole different story for most authors. Most authors are only supplementing their income by writing books anyway.

It's also no secret that digital books can be a big failure if you choose the wrong model. Maybe his model (donate, or I'll stop writing chapters) was simply a bad one. Personally, I think it sounds like a huge hassle to have to pay the author periodically to read each chapter, after it's been so long that I've probably forgotten what happened in the last chapter.

Re:Doesn't Always Work (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965307)

All true, but in my case, I bought the first section of The Plant, and found it so poor that I didn't even want to download the rest for free! I'd also second the whole time delay thing.. who wants to read a book over so many months!?

To be honest, even if the book were good, his attitude would have turned me off. He made it sound like it was some major act of philanthropy and personal hardship to release the book in the way he did. Come on.. the guy is a multi-multi-millionaire!

Re:Doesn't Always Work (3, Funny)

MaineCoon (12585) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965233)

Sales were so abysmal

So was the book. Kind of explains the sales, eh?

Re:Doesn't Always Work (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965524)

The sales were so abysmal he died from it *ducks*

What??? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965157)

You mean all this time I've been doing it wrong by placing tiny classified ads?

ill choice (1)

lavaface (685630) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965166)

I must say, this seems like a bad example. First of all, the books are all about Mac software. Why would I want to read that on a PDA? If we're talking about downloading to a computer, why would I want to pay money when a few minutes of Google will help me out? Sure, it's convenient. But it's not even guaranteed. And $10 seems like a high price for an electronic document covering basic material. I suppose neophyte Macaddicts may spring for it but there are plenty of free resources [macosxhints.com] . All in all, I think Baen books [baen.com] are a much better example.

Re:ill choice (5, Informative)

eggboard (315140) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965270)

I'm the author of two of these books and have been using a Mac since 1985. I'm not going to pump up my own effort, but I can tell you how much of these books arise specifically from the fact that we, as authors and experienced Mac users, couldn't find complete and/or accurate answers to the questions that the books address, nor could we find the comprehensive start to finish advice that we needed.

Our books aren't "here's menu A, here's menu B." The whole point is that they're not exhaustive, but they focus in on specific details. The books try to solve problems and to do it in finite space.

It would also be another thing if you could spend a few minutes and find the answer on Google for everything in the 50 to 100 pages in the books. But you can't. It might take you a few minutes per page to find what's in the book. So if you spent, say, 2 to 4 hours, you might save $5 to $10 -- if you could find the information.

My first book on file sharing took me about 60 hours to write on top of my experience with Unix (1994 to present), Linux (1997 to present), and Mac OS X (10.0.0 to present). The AirPort book that I just released a few weeks ago took less time in the first edition, but we commit to releasing updates with new and updated material--version 1.0 was about 90 pages; 1.1 (a free update for 1.0 book buyers) will be about 160.

Another interesting interaction with the ebooks is that we hear from readers and can practically immediately make changes. People who bought my AirPort books first version gave me great feedback. I incorporated almost all of it into new information for the 1.1 release, which all of these readers will get for free. I love that.

I hope this clears up a few of the issues. Almost all of the writers involved to date are freelancers, and it's really quite difficult to make a good living writing about using technology, which, I hope, helps other people. These ebooks make it financially possible for me to write books on topics that people are asking us for but that aren't available in a few minutes of Google searching, and that aren't cost effective for a print book, which has to sell 5,000 to 10,000 copies (depending on size) to be even a reasonable success.

Imagine, for instance, a 50-page book on regular expression pattern matching for Mac OS X users. It's a possibility, and would be highly useful. But you can't write a print book like that. (Although O'Reilly has a more generalized book on the topic in print!)

pdf publications are wonderful (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965226)

I recently purchased several hiking trail guides in PDF version from a website. It was extremely convienent having the information readily accessible via my iPaq while hiking.

Great idea :)

yeah but on Mac (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965230)

Successful on Mac = 24 copies sold

Bullshit. (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965235)

I'm sorry, have you not all been reading the on-line mags and such? Your local newspaper? There is no way to make money on the internet giving away things for free. Rob Enderle of SCO has something to say about this (Free Software and the Fools That Use it) [groklaw.net] . Thank you very much.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965710)

I'm sorry, have you not all been reading the on-line mags and such? Your local newspaper? There is no way to make money on the internet giving away things for free

That's funny, just a few days ago, our local newspaper (the Oregonian) called up and offered a free two week trial, and it was easier to say "uh, sure, why not" than politely end the conversation. And no, I don't intend to read it, except for the fry's ad and the funnies. I guess they believe information wants to be free, too.

PS I'm proud to be regarded as a fool by Rob Enderle.

-jim

Re:Bullshit. (1)

jarich (733129) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965807)

I'm sorry, have you not all been reading the on-line mags and such? Your local newspaper? There is no way to make money on the internet giving away things for free.

hmmm.... how much are you paying to read "on-line mags and such?" Are you paying to read Slashdot? Last I heard Roblimo and Taco were getting by giving this "stuff" away...

Ignore This. (0, Offtopic)

karmatic (776420) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965254)

I truly do have karma to burn, so I'm going to test out a thoery...

Do people with low UIDs go around looking for Low UID threads, and reply?

Time will tell...

Re:Ignore This. (3, Funny)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965281)

Actually, what usually happens is that somebody with a six-figure UID will reply to a user with a four-figure UID with this:

"You must be new here."

Disclaimer: I have a high six-figure UID

Re:Ignore This. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965397)

i suspect that some people with low UIDs have each other on thir friends lists, and with a bonus set to friend posts are more likely to see the threads

Caveat Emptor (2, Interesting)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965305)

These Take Control books are really short (less than 70 pages). I've bought a lot of professional books. Most of them approach 1000 pages. Even the index is over 40 pages.

Re:Caveat Emptor (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965540)

1 page written by a wise man is more valuable than 1001 pages written by a fool.

KFG

One important caveat! (1)

mveloso (325617) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965380)

One great thing that Engst mentioned (but it was sort of glossed over by the writer) was this: these e-things are promoted in Tidbits.

This gives them -the- major advantage over most eBooks: PR.

What people seem to have forgotten (though it was talked about a lot) is what publishing houses and music companies have: marketing channels. Marketing channels are huge, expensive to build, and expensive to maintain. But they're really the only barrier to entry in a lot of markets...but that's a big barrier.

How do you get your book noticed? Word of mouth? Internet newsgroups? Maybe you send free copies to book clubs or the local radio station?

Without the majors, your life will be tougher.

The companies that are succeeding are the ones that are trying to become marketing channels. Tidbits is one. google, of all things, is another. eBay is one. iTMS is one. Even O'Reilly is one - all the hot tech comes out in their books first.

The question is, how can you tell which companies are doing this? I don't think about it a lot, so I don't know the answer. It would be nice to hear other companies that are channels.

Re:One important caveat! (1)

jarich (733129) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965818)

How to do this?

Build on the brand you already have!

http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/starter_kit/ind ex.html/ [pragmaticprogrammer.com]

Leander is an incompetent boob (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965404)

He's not a good journalist, he doesn't double check his work, he uses sentence fragments, and he's a complete hack.

But that's just the opinion of one of his anonymous collegues.

So don't quit yer day job Leander. Lord knows Wired.com's a completely retarded for keeping you on staff. If you've hoodwinked them for this long, better hold on till the bitter fucking end.

PS: my incompetence at checking my own work, and this post is completely irrelevent, thank you very much!

It pays for Jim Baen who gives it away. (2, Informative)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965493)

As mentioned [slashdot.org] in slashdot [slashdot.org] before, Baen publishing [baen.com] puts out Webscriptions [webscription.net] and also gives away ebooks for free [baen.com] on the net and they also provide a CD in several of their books with a large number of novels included. All of the free ebooks in the free library and on CD can be shared but not sold.

Here are several ISO images of Baen's free science fictional goodness [zlynx.org] , please leave up your bittorrent client for others to share.

Publishers Missing Out (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965500)

I think that what the TidBITS people are doing with ebooks is a good example of what a lot of traditional publishers are missing out on. There have been a number of publishers that have made articles freely accessible online and tried to sell banner advertising. When that doesn't work out, they simply make their articles "subscriber only," which shrinks their online audience greatly (and sinks search engine rankings since nobody is motivated to link to inaccessible articles) and eliminates the possibility of making "add on" revenue producers like ebooks impractical.

For example, an industry publication could make articles freely accessible to bring in traffic and then earn revenue through ebooks, vendor directory lisings, "ask the expert" services, RFP services, industry reports, forum subscriptions, etc. Some publications have dabbled in such things, and some such efforts will inevitably fail, but it seems that many publications don't even try to branch beyond their print approach of simply selling ads.

THIS FP FoR gNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965543)

Re:THIS FP FoR gNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965651)

you are quite possibly the lamest person on all of slashdot.

Yeah, but how profitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9965586)

20,000 copies at $7.5 (it mentions $5 or $10), that's $150,000. 50% royalties, so the publisher keeps $75,000.

After expenses that's not even much for the publisher to pay himself a decent salary. So maybe profitable, but hardly an example of a booming business.

Low cost, high volume (4, Informative)

migstradamus (472166) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965598)

I've been running my own online publishing service since December 2002. Weekly e-mail chess training newsletters in html/pdf. It's been quite successful as a one-man show. I don't use any DRM and encourage subscribers to share with friends. Going on the "pixels are cheap" formula I priced things very low. Apart from the "lemonade game" aspect of having more subscribers with a lower price vs fewer paying more, having more happy subscribers works on word of mouth.

I could put bugs in the html and DRM into the PDF to see who is forwarding the newsletters to a dozen friends, but all you do is force people to take more care with their piracy. Since you'll never stop a determined pirate, why hassle everyone else? I'm sure this is "Doh!" material for the /. crowd.

Piracy issues? Customize the products! (4, Interesting)

msclark (413170) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965603)

One way to fight e-book piracy is to customize the books for the customer. This makes the books less attractive to pass on.

My company ImageJester [imagejester.com] personalizes its e-books with the names and faces of people. Folks can even read the customized e-books online for free, and high-quality PDF files can be purchased and printed on home color printers.

This busines model works for picture books for children, but perhaps a customized technical manual for an operating system doesn't have quite the same appeal. :^)

Matthew Clark

I dont think so... (1)

maxdamage (615250) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965617)

I mean, I highly doubt online publishing is even worth the effort. You would need to do so much advertising and get so much television publicity that it would just be more worth it to be invited to a real book signing. Maybe publishing both real books and online books may be worth it, but not going online only.

Cost Estimate (2, Informative)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 9 years ago | (#9965719)

Just a note for those not inclined to do the math. There are 2 $10 books and 7 $5 books for an average of $6.111 per book. The Wired article states that roughly 20,000 have been sold. If we assume that every book sold equally, which we know to be false but will accept for the purposes of this estimate, that's $122,222.22 in revenue. 50%, or $61,111.11, of which goes to the authors. There are 9 books. If we stick by our earlier assumption that's $6,790.12 for the author per book. Now we could add in what we do know about "Upgrading to Panther," but it would distribute evenly anyway. I know what you're thinking, and no I do not get outside much.
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