I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
We're sponsoring a conference!
Perl Training Australia is now the first Gold Sponsor of the Open Source Developers Conference, to be held in Melbourne, Australia this year. We'll be plastering big news items up on our site shortly.
Not all books are equal
Perl Training Australia has a fantastic deal whereby if you register for a course early, and pay on time, you get free Perl books of your choice. We also offer Perl books at a 20% discount off recommended retail price for anyone booking a course.
This is proving to be very popular, and some people are getting quite a few books through this scheme. Send three people on our Introduction to Perl and Intermediate Perl courses the special can provide you with six free books, plus any you may wish to purchase. We're moving big boxes of dead trees around now.
However, when it comes to the distributor of these books, who imports them into Australia, not all books are created equal. Let's take some of the writings of popular author Dave Cross, who wrote both Data Munging with Perl and the Perl Template Toolkit. They're both good books, and they both have the same price. But one's much more difficult to obtain than the other.
Data Munging is a popular book, it's got a trendy name, and so it's usually in stock. Template Toolkit on the other hand, is never in stock. The distributors have a policy that they never keep any copies in their inventory. So if you want to purchase the book, that's a 6-8 week wait for the order to go out, and the book to be shipped and processed. If you want to purchase a second book at a later date, it's another 6-8 weeks.
Normally, if you're a book-store (and we're not, we're a training organisation), you'd just buy up extra copies of the book, and return them back to the distributor for a credit if some don't sell. However if the book is on the "don't hold in stock" list, then the bookstores can't return it for credit, either. It's only sold as a firm sale. This means that as a bookstore, you don't want to be buying these books unless you already have a customer lined up.
The end result is that there are certain books that you'll never find in the stores, and which will take 6-8 weeks to reach you should you want one, and you'll have to pay in advance. Changing your bookstore won't help, since these are due to changes are the distributor level.
This is a real chicken-and-egg problem. High-turnover books (like the camel and cookbook) are easy to obtain, but low-turnover books are much harder to obtain. By being hard to obtain, they don't get exposure in stores, and hence are unlikely to reach high-turnover levels, and remain hard to obtain.
We're currently in the process of quizzing the distributors as to which Perl books are on this list, so we can warn our students in advance that these will take some time to reach them. I'd rather not have to do this, but I really don't like telling our customers that some of their books will take two months after they've placed and paid for their order.