To Publish and then Perish
My friend, Gordon Davidescu, sent me this interesting link from O’Reilly publishing where you buy a book that is bound in a school-like binder and then you can either download updated chapters and cut them up and place them in the binder or you can order pre-cut pages from the publisher to add to your book binder.
My first question: “Why does it take six weeks for an update?” I wrote my Google Apps book for Thomson and I add online bonus chapters — with screenshots — the day a new Dashboard features are announced. I give my readers free access to those chapters in order to guarantee the ongoing freshness of the book.
My second question: “Are authors paid to continually update their content?” If yes, great! If not, why not? I’m all for the evergreen book, but not perpetual publishing purgatory where authors are made to write never-ending books.
My final question: “Why do I need O’Reilly to publish me if people are just downloading updates? I’ll do it all myself and keep all the profit without a split!”
As publishers mark down royalty advances to little or nothing, and as they “publish” school-like binders as books… they are not creating new content or exploring new niches — they are actually pushing authors to self-publish, electronically, on their own websites.
Any publisher can buy an empty binder — but few authors have the want, or the ability, to keep filling that empty space with new content and updated material.