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Monday, May 13, 2002

A Reader Responds to: If You Write Programming Books

On ?Friday? I wrote a small rant about how writers of programming books don't tell you where the code is.  Dave Gulbran responded with:

Having worked with a variety of publishers, on a variety of books, let me tell you, singling out the *authors* for this transgression is a *mistake*.

I've worked on books that should have come with a CD-ROM, but only had a website. And I've worked on books that should have had a website, but instead had a CD-ROM. The common mistake most people make is that the author has final control over these elements. Maybe if you are a well-established author, working with O'Reilly. But not in the general trade press. As an author, I work hard to make my books the best the can possibly be, but without the publisher, my works wouldn't get read by anyone. He who has the press enjoys the freedom of the press.

I think Dave is definitely right here.  And his comment about O'Reilly makes me happy since I'm now an O'Reilly author.  But...

Authors have personal home pages.  Readers have Google.  The intersection of these, for the book I criticized gave me:

And, of course, the obligatory link to the Amazon page.  No where on any of these pages could I find a "Here's the Source Code" link.  Great ... so I can type in 400 pages of source if I want access to every "recipe" (it was the php developer's cookbook).  The shame of this is that it's an awesome book!  Well written and clear.  But it fails in a huge way for me (and I think lots of others -- it's interesting to me that Amazon has it listed as "out of print").

If the publisher screws it up, doesn't the author have an obligation to his readers to give them a correction?

Dave made the point that O'Reilly does better on this than others and I have to agree here (remember though I am biased).  With an O'Reilly book I can always find the code.  I might have to grovel a small bit but that's normal.  With this book, I groveled, I begged and I asked nicely, all to no avail. 

It's never been a surprise to me that year after year O'Reilly continues to be the best overall book company.  Sure we may flirt with Wrox or New Riders but it's O'Reilly that every seems to come back to.  Short and Simple: O'Reilly Gets It.

comment [] 10:23:39 AM    

Blogging, Celebrities, Journalism and You

I had an interesting if surreal experience last night that brought home to me the nature of blogging and journalism.  Here's what happened.  A few weeks earlier I added an IM name for a celebrity to my buddy list and I saw them pop up...

NOTE: If you're a geek, there's an interesting comment at the end on "How IM could make money" with an additional privacy option. 

==> Read Story <==

comment [] 6:53:23 AM    

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