More On the ToDADS Reprint
published: Wed, 4-Oct-2006 | updated: Sat, 25-Aug-2018
Wow. I'm humbled. The messages of approval for the reprint have been flooding in, together with some inevitable questions, questions I should have anticipated and to which I should have prepared answers. Anyway, rather than reply to each correspondent individually, I think it'll be better if I reply to all the questions here. That way, everyone can get the same information at the same time.
I've arranged them in a kind of FAQ, so without further ado...
Are you going to discuss your experiences in self-publishing?
Absolutely. I happen to think, like Nick Hodges does, that on-demand publishing services like Lulu are great for books with highly-specific content. Consider it from a standard publisher's viewpoint: they need to print at least 5,000 copies of a technical book, say, to get the printing discounts due to volume and so they need to be assured that they can sell that many. That's why when you go into Barnes & Noble, or Waterstones, or whatever your local bookstore is called, you see big technical books that cover a wide spectrum of information. Those books are likely to be more attractive to a wider audience, and therefore sell more, rather than a slimmer book that just covers a single topic very deeply. (I'm ignoring, for the sake of argument, the books that sell because of the fame of the author, for example.)
Nevertheless, single-focus, highly-specialized technical books are sellable, but perhaps not in volume. Say I wrote a book on techniques in Delphi for implementing load-on-demand systems (that is, how to split up an application's functionality into separate modules that were only loaded when they were required). Most applications just don't need it, but you could, if you really needed this kind of functionality, surf Google and find most of the information online somewhere, possibly not coded in Delphi, true, but I dare say it's all there. Or, you could buy a print-on-demand 75-page book for $15 that someone wrote that described how to do it. You get the info for the cost of 15 minutes of your time, the author makes a quick $5 on your sale. If he manages to sell 1000 copies, say, he still makes a tidy profit on writing what is, after all, a fairly small book.
Anyway, I'm going to be writing a post here in the next day or so about my experiences in preparing the book for print, what I did, what problems I ran into and how I solved them, etc.
I've also been chatting with Jeff Duntemann a lot about self-publishing through a print-on-demand service, and he's going to be posting his thoughts in the next couple of days.
The cost for shipping the book to [insert your country here] is a sizeable fraction of the cost of the book and is much more than Amazon charges. What's with that?
I'm sorry, but I don't set nor do I have any input whatsoever into Lulu's shipping prices or policies. Similarly, I can't influence how long it takes to print a copy either. In a perfect world, a book would be printed the same day and shipping would be minimal, but the world doesn't seem to work like that.
Any chance of a PDF version?
Actually, believe it or not, I knew this question was going to come up <g>. It's a kind of corollary of the previous one ("since it costs so much to ship to X, can I have a downloadable PDF instead?"), as well as being a valid question in its own right.
My answer is fairly simple at this stage. I really want to see how the entire self-publishing print-on-demand thing works, how to set it all up, understanding the problems my customers may have in getting the book, the quality, the time to fulfill an order, the shipping, the whole ball of wax. The reason for that is that I want to write other highly-specialized books but I don't want to have to go through the entire Big Publishing thing I went through before.
The other thing I want to do is investigate how to embed and encode customer information inside the PDF in an effort to reduce piracy. The Pragmatic Programmer Bookshelf does this with their books as PDFs (the email address you used to order the book is embedded as a footer on every page) and I'm happy with that. Unfortunately, Lulu don't offer this as an option, so I'd have to create each individual PDF manually (as well as set up a system for taking and fulfilling orders). The ordering and payment side I can do through PayPal, but the PDF generation side would require me to make a change to the Word doc and then regenerate the PDF with Acrobat -- unfortunately it currently takes a good 20 minutes to generate the PDF.
Anyway, I'm still looking into the PDF possibility but it'll happen much later on and most likely not through Lulu. For now, a physical book is all I'm offering.
Does the reprint come with the CD in the back?
No. The original CD had all of the source code, EZDSL, and a trial-run of TurboPower's Sleuth QA Suite. The source code can be downloaded here (and it is up to date and bug-fixed) and has been available for download for a long while already. EZDSL can be downloaded here (the fixes for Delphi 2006 are here). TurboPower no longer exists and, I'm sorry to say, neither does Sleuth QA Suite.
Where do I get the errata and fixes for the original book?
Here (they're at the bottom of the page). Note that these errata pages have been updated ever since the original book went on sale in June 2001. I will be setting up errata pages for the reprint, once people find the inevitable bugs.