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   Re: [xml-dev] Re: xml, books

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bob@objfac.com (Bob Foster) writes:
>I got a different spin from a publisher when I inquired about doing a
>book on a subject for which there is an existing book with an online
>version. The question was, "How are you going to compete with a free

I think for the most part we benefit from the "competition with free"
being somewhat muted.  A lot of people prefer bound books, though I
suppose folks who want spiral bound could take advantage of this and
print their own.  The continued existence of brick-and-mortar bookstores
also provides a different context in which people make their choices.

>I think the fact that O'Reilly publishes a free, online version as
>well as (and in advance of) a print version has a pre-emptive effect.
>Whereas the free version may actually stimulate some sales of the same
>book in dead tree form, it discourages other titles on the same
>subject from publishers who aren't ready to embrace the "pay nothing
>or pay $50" philosophy. ;-}

Hmmm.... I sort of wish that was true.  I have heard of books being
cancelled because O'Reilly was publishing one, but I have to admit I
have my doubts that competitors would worry about that if they thought
the area was strong. They can make lousy judgments sometimes, perhaps. I
can't say other companies are generally afraid to compete with us, even
if our book is under a free license.

(Addison-Wesley just released an XForms book which competes with our
GFDL'd XForms Essentials, for instance.)

Also, I'm occasionally annoyed by lack of competition - I think it helps
books a lot if they have company in a field.  I was very happy to be
part of an expanding group of XML books early on.  At this point I think
the field (and some of its subfields) is probably overpublished, though.


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