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Fashion Flats and Technical Drawing
East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Kindle's format offers less options, but has a big reach of readers - especially given the kindle hardware's nice form factor. The fact that it's proprietary is also a negative, but again Amazon's reach currently makes up for it.
Essentially for book material you need to do both epub and kindle, but then have to figure out how to live with the limitations of the kindle compared to epub. Do you limit yourself to what will work in both, or two versions that can play to the strengths of both platforms?
Musings on Ebooks
The other thought is go beyond the ebook formats themselves and publish material as a tablet app - which allows full use of the capabilities of the platform itself. At the moment I'm not tempted by this. There's too much churn the in app formats - and when I'm working on a book I want something that will last for a decade or so. This does, however, raise some interesting questions of what can be done with relatively open formats, such as HTML 5, and a tablet form factor.
Or perhaps some specialized variant of book format for particular kinds of book. I remember an early editor of mine at Pearson  talking about how much he was looking forward to disintermediating the big book stores. Since an author's royalties are usually based on the what the publisher gets, reducing this would improve matters for authors too. As I write this, Borders is bankrupt , so the disintermediation could be said to be going full swing. However what seems to be happening is a change of distributor.
Amazon has become the big player in book distribution over the last decade.
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As well as doing a good job with physical books, they have also got an early lead in electronic books too. The alternative is for publishers to get a direct relationship with readers. A great example of a company doing this is the Pragmatic Programmers usually referred to as the "prags". The best way to buy an ebook from the prags is to go directly to their website. Once you get the book you can download it in multiple formats: PDF, epub, and kindle. You can download it as often as you like and in as many formats as you like.
You can get a paper copy too at a reduced price. I really like that I can read their books in multiple formats easily.
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And I'm sure their authors like the fact that they get more money by disintermediating the distributors. Large publishers, such as Pearson, have different challenges to small ones. If they try to disintermediate, they can run into nasty fights with their distributors. They also have existing legal agreements to honor. On the other hand they can carry enough weight to influence even such a large distributor as Amazon.
One of the open questions around all this is what does the reader buy? The traditional approach is that the reader pays for the representation of a book, each physical copy of a book is a separate thing to pay for. The Prags' model is different, when I buy an ebook from them I am buying access to the content of the book - and I can take as many representations epub, kindle, etc as I like. The only representation I pay extra for is the paper one, should I wish to have it.
The Economist's model is like this too: I've been a subscriber to The Economist for a long time and it's always given me a copy of the paper representation plus access to the web site. All of these representations are included in the subscription price. In contrast I was subscriber to Zagat's. When they came out with an iPhone app, I had to pay for it again to read the same content as one their website. There the payment was for the representation website or app rather than for content. The demands of ebooks places a lot of pressure on the production process. If you want to be able to produce output for multiple different formats easily, you need a highly automated process.
Furthermore the source files for that process need to be based on the semantic structure of the book, as opposed to its physical representation on paper.
Here again the prags have led the way in no small part because they are programmers themselves. They have built up a complete tool-chain that goes from an XML source file that captures the semantic structure of the book and can produce camera-ready output for print and multiple ebook formats.
On top of that they make use of source control on the book text itself to enhance collaboration during the book production process. For my previous book I had used a similar approach during the drafting of the book, but cut over to a more old fashioned approach once I reached the final draft.
For my DSL book I was determined to keep an automated, version-controlled process throughout the entire system. This is somewhat of a struggle with Pearson, since it's a big company that has to mostly deal with authors who are used to a more traditional process. Fortunately the people I worked with are keen to support this style of working and were able to work with me, although it did require a fair bit of programming on my part to make it all flow. In the future I firmly believe this kind of automation will become more of an imperative, particularly if we want to push the boundaries of what a book should look like in a world of multiple tablets.
When I've been asked about how publishers are valuable to an author, my emphasis was on getting books into bookstores. My regular counter-example was Dorset House, a publisher who did some fine books that you could never get hold of. But the move to internet sales changes the equation. At the moment one could argue that the only bookstore that matters is Amazon. If you can get your books there, does a publisher help? Self-publishing has always had a reputation of being for cranks, yet there are some well regarded exceptions - Edward Tufte is a good example. With ebooks there is much more of an argument for self-publishing.
By self-publishing there may be a route to lower the prices of books to the reader and still getting more than the traditional route offers. I've known other tech-authors who have given self-publishing a try and found it more trouble that it was worth.
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And there is the Prags who went into self-publishing and turned into a full-time business. Ed Yourdon followed that same path a couple of decades earlier. Both are examples of how common it is for people to underestimate the amount of work it takes to publish - for people seem to either give up to turn into their full-time job. But with such disruption to the book business I cannot exclude the possibility that there will be a shift that makes it worthwhile for independent authors. A web business owned jointly by Pearson and O'Reilly.
Membership in safari books online isn't cheap, but it does allow you access to all of their technical books, which is a very handy resource. And that's without even considering cases where the physical representation is part of the book's design. In Refactoring, the opening chapter uses the left and right pages to show before and after code segments.
I like how that worked really well, but it's impossible to do with ebooks. A good example of these are travel guides. Their topic is such that a specialized information schema, based on point-of-interest rather than chapters and paragraphs, make sense. Lonely Planet is shifting to thinking of their content as a populated database that can be represented in various formats, which include tablet apps as well as epub documents and their website.
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Publishers, like many enterprises, have undergone lots of consolidation over the years. As a result there are separate notions of publisher and imprint. A publisher is a company that publishes books. Thus far, all my books have been published by Pearson. However you don't see Pearson's name that prominently on my books, instead you see Addison-Wesley. Addison-Wesley is the imprint, essentially the brand-name used for books like mine. In some cases the imprint and the publisher is the same, such as O'Reilly. Pearson is in fact much larger even than that. I ended up dropping the website subscription in favor of the iPhone app since it was far more convenient.
Musings on Ebooks It's only just over a year since I got my first ebook reader. Find similar articles at the tag: As a reader My initial revelation was the iPad. As a writer For most of the time I was writing my DSL book, I imagined it as a physical book, much like my other books. On the form With all this change, it seems easy for people to predict the end of books. Formats One of the open questions for ebooks what format to use. As a result it's a mature format that you can read on lots of devices. Its biggest problem and arguably its strength is that it's delivered with a fixed display page size in mind.
This means it doesn't reflow well for different sized tablets.
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