Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pre-Release Book Programs

Last month O'Reilly and Associates started their Rough Cuts program. It is essentially a beta program for books, where you can pay for immediate access to the book in PDF format, months before the book is released. In fact it looks like the one title Ruby Cookbook won't be on the store shelves until September.

I think this is a great idea because it gives you access to new technologies sooner rather than later, saving you time, and in turn money. The pricing isn't too bad either. For the Ruby Cookbook it is $33 for the book only (when it comes out), $25 for immediate access to the PDF in progress, or $55 for both.

O'Reilly isn't the first to come up with this idea, although the are the largest publisher that I know of that is doing this. A few months ago I was looking for a book on AJAX, and there wasn't much available. The local book store had no AJAX books, nor my O'Reilly's online Safari service. After doing some looking I found that the Pragmatic Programmers had their own beta book program (FAQ), and their upcoming title Pragmatic Ajax was already available. Although the book was incomplete it gave me the information I was looking for. The price was actually a bit better than O'Reilly's offering, at $20 for the online PDF, and $37.50 for both the PDF and book at release.

In conclusion, I like the concept of beta books, because I don't always have the time to research a new technology myself.


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