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ziggy (25)

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Journal of ziggy (25)

Thursday September 04, 2003
05:07 PM

Expensive Books

[ #14496 ]

Seems like everyone and their cat has a reason to complain about O'Reilly these days:

  • Why can't they publish more Perl books?
  • Why can't they publish updated editions sooner?
  • Why are their books so damn expensive?
  • Why are the books so damn fat?
  • They fired Larry. What's up with that?
  • I bought the 1st edition of the Perl Cookbook at full retail price; why should I have to pay again now that the 2nd edition is out?
  • No one cares about XP, so why spend so much time and effort on the XP books?
  • Why are the Missing Manuals so fluffy and useless?
  • Why aren't they doing more for Perl these days?

Someone just pegged my bogometer today lamenting that O'Reilly should have an upgrade program to help out customers who purchased an earlier edition of, say The Perl Cookbook.

I have my issues with O'Reilly, but all of them are bikeshed-grade details. Whenever one of those bikesheds gets a little irksome, I mention it to the O'Reilly staff who either say "that's a great idea, we should do that", point out the many other factors they need to keep balanced as a profitable business, or chime in that other customers have similar complains (and they're already in the process of addressing the issue).

O'Reilly's relationship with their customers is beyond reproach. And I'm tired of hearing people gripe about them.


Update: 2003-09-05 Although I meant to list these gripes rhetorically, gnat has kindly addressed the complaints listed above. Thanks, gnat!

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  • Agreed Z. Marsee [mailto] @ora has been really nice to our group by sending along complimentary copies of relevant titles for our tech meets. ora++
  • Running a business successfully is difficult. You have to balanced potential and actual customers with available resources. It's much cheaper, per book, to publish one book that sells ten thousand copies than to publish ten books that each sell one thousand copies.

    (all figures are made up and should not be taken to reflect any actual books)

  • I've rarely been disappointed with what I've bought - mainly in the perl/html/xml areas. I don't know much about the economics of technical book publishing but I guess the physical specifications (paper/binding etc) and relatively low print runs/sales (compared to best seller lists) dictate the "higher than you would ideally like" price. Also the authors (many of whom are known here) don't seem to have become fabulously rich from sales....