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   RE: [xml-dev] Re: xml, books

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Over the past five years, I've bought many XML titles, and several of
each in a few cases, handing them out to developers or anyone else in
the office who asked more than casual questions about XML.  They rarely
ask, these days, I suspect because they've learned what they wanted (not
always what they needed).  There are only a few that I still look at
(Ken Sall's in particular).  I did buy the new Unicode anchor, but only
one copy.  As tricky as "common" XML technologies can be, they aren't
rocket science.  Once you've mastered them, you need only references or
problem solvers.  We are committed to a service oriented architecture,
which requires additional knowledge and skills, but that appears to be
addressed mostly by learning the tools of choice in your working

In our use of XML, the costs of implementation are generally seen as
recoverable.  Much of what I see in the semantic web field is the
addition of XML syntax to ideas that have been widely used for some time
(e.g., taxonomy and its variations), and will benefit from the
transition.  There is much more, though, that is incrementally and
significantly more complex and abstract, even if it isn't precisely AI
re-dressed.  For these technologies that, unlike common XML, model only
rarely used and very demanding mental strategies, it is much more
difficult for most people to a) understand them, b) appreciate their
benefit, and c) demonstrate how the cost will be recovered.  Who buys
books for technology they won't use?

Bruce B. Cox

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Graham [mailto:igraham@ic-unix.ic.utoronto.ca] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 9:02 PM
To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Re: xml, books

Is there any data explaining 'why' people by technical (e.g. XML) books?

I suspect that the current book crop doesn't provide what customers are
looking for.

For example, I would buy a perl book to learn how perl works. I wouldn't
buy a book solely about a perl API as I feel I could learn more from my
own experiments with the API (or my own problem).

So, why aren't people on this list buying all those books?


 On Wed, 15 Oct 2003, Simon St.Laurent wrote:

> dulino@olegdulin.com (Oleg Dulin) writes:
> >I noticed an interesting trend -- many authors appear to publish 
> >their books onine under Creative Commons or GFDL license for free and

> >then it gets published by O'Reilly. Is that because O'Reilly is 
> >hesitant to take on book projects ?
> No, that has other origins for the most part.  With XSL-FO, Dave 
> Pawson had published the manuscript online before we acquired it, but 
> the other books you've seen go this route (Practical RDF, RELAX NG, 
> XForms, now Open Office XML Essentials) were all O'Reilly projects - 
> if not books - before they were released on the Web.
> Open manuscripts often make editing much easier, as people tend to 
> find different kinds of mistakes, often earlier in the process.  There

> are sometimes issues with the credibility of unknown reviewers or the 
> potential for abuse, but so far I'm pretty happy with the process.
> XSL-FO, RELAX NG, XForms, and Open Office XML Essentials are all, I 
> believe, going to remain "open" - O'Reilly will sell them on paper, 
> but electronic versions will remain available on the Web.  This is not

> unusual for us, though it isn't typical of publishing in general. We 
> suspect there are some lost sales, but also some additional sales and 
> benefits that wouldn't happen otherwise.
> We do have a "Community Press" option for printing documentation that 
> already exists under free licenses.  See, for example, the MySQL 
> Reference Manual:
> http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/mysqlref/
> The books I've personally edited for publication under open licenses 
> so far have all been regular O'Reilly books, not Community Press. 
> (XSL-FO could have been, probably, but wasn't.)
> >I have to side with some of the posters on this thread that changes 
> >need to be made to how books are released. I am not a big fan of 
> >printed computer books. I prefer to use Safari, which is great and is

> >a wonderful start.
> >
> >Safari should be extended to allow publications of smaller books, 
> >perhaps periodicals along the lines of academic journals. Authors 
> >should be able to use a CMS to update sections of the book as 
> >technology changes and get editors' approval in a matter of days.
> We've definitely talked about this inside O'Reilly.  (Safari is a 
> joint venture between O'Reilly and Pearson.)  For now, the mechanisms 
> for publishing on Safari are pretty tightly tied to the mechanisms for

> releasing books, but that may change over time.
> Smaller projects definitely sound like a good idea generally - there 
> are many projects that need more than an XML.com or O'Reilly Network 
> article but not necessarily a book. We're not there yet.
> Also, figuring out an economic model that keeps authors interested in 
> updating their works is a challenge.  I think most authors are 
> interested in maintaining errata, but updating books feels like, well,

> writing books.  A sense of "completion" is one of the key intangibles 
> in writing books, I have to admit.
> >For those who want printed books, a regular subscription will allow 
> >them to receive journals on a monthly (or quarterly) basis similar to

> >how academic journals by ACM and IEEE are released.
> We've had mixed luck with things like W3J, which was a quarterly 
> journal based on W3C work.  I suspect doing this seriously would 
> require a pretty complete reorganization, tough to do when most of our

> cash still comes through the sale of complete books.
> >Conventional Wiki sites such as http://wiki.cocoondev.org/ are a 
> >cacophony of unedited articles, many of them incomplete and outdated.
> >What we need is someone like O'Reilly to create a compromising 
> >solution that will give the readers up-to-date documentation _and_ 
> >the quality editting and approval process.
> I like the idea, though I worry that editing is much like metadata:
> everyone wants it to be there, but few are willing to pay for it.  
> Books have been a convenient answer to that for a long time.
> We'll see!
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