Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PDF Versions of my Books

I'm currently working with my publisher on the preparation of PDF versions of my
books, which we hope to make available (i.e, for sale) within the next couple of
months. We have a pretty good idea of what we're going to be offering, but
we're still tinkering with the details, and I'd be interested in any suggestions
you'd care to offer.

The basic plan is to offer the complete books (front cover to back cover) in PDF
protected by fairly lax DRM. The existence of DRM means you'll have to use a
reader that supports that DRM, the most common choice probably being Acrobat
Reader. You can expect:
- The ability to have each ebook on several machines simultaneously. Each PDF
file is licensed for one user, but that user will have the ability to put copies
on multiple machines. A copy at work, home, and on a laptop will be no problem.
- The ability to print your copy of each ebook.
- The ability to copy material out of the ebook, except that you will probably
be limited to no more than 30 copy operations in each 30-day period.
- All URLs and intra-book cross-references will be live links. So TOC and index
entries will be live, cross-references among book Items will be live, etc.
- The PDF you download will be the current version. I often make small updates
between printings, and if I've submitted the PDF for printing n of the book to
the publisher, you'll download that version, even if the printing still
available in hardcopy bookstores is n-1.
- Books with text in two colors (EC++ and ESTL) will have text in two colors.
(This may seem obvious, but tell that to the people who scan my books and post
illegal copies on the internet, sigh.)
- All photos in the books that are in black and white will be in color. Okay,
there's only one photo, and it's of Persephone (our late dog), but it will be in
- All the usual PDF features, e.g., full-text searching, cross-platform support,
pan and zoom, etc.

As I said, that's the basic plan. If you have suggestions for things we should
add or should avoid, especially if it's based on your experience with other PDF
ebooks, and most especially if it's based on experience with other PDF versions
of Addison-Wesley books, please let me know. Suggestions most likely to be
adopted will require little or no human intervention, so asking for things like
live links between books (which do not exist in the printed books, because I
want all the books to stand on their own) are likely to be noted, logged, and
not acted upon, at least not for the initial release of the books in this form.
We'll revisit such suggestions if we decide to do something more ambitious in
the future.

Thanks in advance for your feedback. We're hoping to do a really nice job with
these ebooks, and with your help, we will.


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