Not sure how IT book publishers can survive these days. People are intoxicated with free content. During American Civil War soldiers were bringing liquor to the camps by hiding it in their boots (a.k.a. boot-legging). But this is the ancient history of America. With soft media, there is no need to hide anything in the boots. You can find almost any content online for free. I’ll give you one of the examples that directly relates to me.
After spending lots and lots of hours writing the book “Enterprise Web Development”, preparing code samples and going through several rounds of editing, the book is finally in print. Lots of people besides the authors were involved in the process. During the entire process the drafts of the all chapters were available online for free. Thank you O’Reilly Media! The idea was to build a community while the book is being worked on.
Now the book is printed. Booksellers get it from the publisher for about 50% of the list price. The publisher paid the authors an advance, which is ours to keep even if not a single copy of the book is sold. The publisher takes a risk. If the book sells well, the author(s) will get a dollar or two in royalties for each sold copy. We’ll split the royalties for this book (if any) between four coauthors, so it’s clearly a not-for-profit project for us. Now check this out:
Two thousands of free downloads just at this pirate site. It’s great for the authors that the book is popular. All authors are working programmers, and our income doesn’t depend on book sales. But this book is a good PR for us and our company (all work for Farata Systems). Read the book, and hire us for your next consulting project! Book writing worked for us really well so far. Our company exists since 2006 and we never had even a single salesman. PR works. It sounds like a paradox, but the more bootlegged copies will be distributed, the better it is for us!
But what about the publishers? How they are supposed to make a living? I simply don’t know. It’s sad to see how the IT sections in the bookstores are shrinking, but this trend will continue.