Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's all Bram Cohen's fault

Charles Petzold on why he doesn't sell as many books as he used to:

(Undoubtedly another factor contributing to crummy book sales is BitTorrent, but that's so painful an issue I can barely bring myself to discuss it.)

This is so much bullshit. Every idiot who comes up with this excuse should be required to pay a zillion bucks for a lecture by Eric Flint. The simple fact is that if a well-paid US computer programmer finds it cheaper to spend a few hours looking for a book torrent on the 'net and downloading it, then you're doing something really wrong. Where is the link to the ebook variant, Charles? Put it on the freaking web for 10 bucks and you'll have removed any incentive to look for a free version. Anyone still doing that would never have bought the paper version of your book anyway. (I paid $25 for The Tomes of Delphi and another $50, if I remember correctly, for shipping.)

Another problem, of course - as Eric points out - is that most people never know about a particular book. He has a very good example: go in a bookstore that has your book and see how many people see the book in a day. Not browse it, not buy it - just see the book. For all those who do not, it might as well not exist. That is why you need color and bullets - so that people talk about it and advertise it to their friends. Jeff Atwood's article was free advertising - too bad your book couldn't measure up to the competition.

As mentioned above, Eric Flint is way better at this than I could ever be.

Oh well. Ranting. What else is a blog for if not that? :P


crevo said...

I actually have a GFDL book, and I must say that probably the only reason why anyone knows about it is that it is open-source. It's called Programming from the Ground Up.

Honestly, who reads an entire book off the screen? If I wind up with anything over 30 pages to read, I have to print it out to save my eyes. So to think that someone is going to print off 300 or so pages as a way to save $35 is just ludicrous.

Marcel said...

Yes... I have a reader (eBookwise) and I'm in love with it - for fiction. It's absolutely useless for technical stuff, so I don't even try.

If you don't sell a technical book, but people download that book for free, you're definitely doing something wrong.