Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Opening Up Linux Journal and O'Reilly

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:8/25/1999; 9:27:14 AM
Topic:Opening Up Linux Journal and O'Reilly
Msg #:9850 (In response to 9848)
Prev/Next:9849 / 9851

* I asked my wife about this (she's a very good ludite-in-residence :) and she said that she would never buy a book if she could not put it in a library to pick up later, sniff it and smell the paper, touch it and feel the texture etc. If that's true for a lot of today's books' buyers, then opening up the source code for books doesn't really pose that much of a financial risk for publishers.

However, consider this. I could open a business and publish, on paper, all of O'Reilly's books, if they were open source. Now the question is how much would you pay for the O'Reilly printing, especially if you knew that the copy I was selling had exactly the same words? This is the issue for O'Reilly.

* If a web site offered the source code for a book in a convenient format, would it be profitable as a web destination? I think that advertizers would love the targetted self-selecting audience and the ability to reach e.g. a large crowd of P.D. James' fans. Cross marketing opportunities also abound. Same with VA Research being able to sell directly to users of Linux, or with Red Hat being able to find out which sections in the Gnome book are most popular and why, which could lead them to improve their software.

I completely agree with this, and I think so do the O'Reilly people, even though I don't pretend to speak for them.

Each O'Reilly book gets more valuable on the web, primarily because they now become searchable, both individually and as a collection. Imagine how useful it would be to have their Frontier and Python books in the same search engine. When you do a search you might find something you can do in one that you can't do in the other.

This is just the beginning. Add syndication and aggregation to the mix, and collaborative editing, and the ability for readers to add to the knowledge base, and an explosion happens. Boooom! All of a sudden the doors open, you can see into other worlds, and you can get answers. And of course when you want to go for a walk in the woods you can bring the learning system with you in the form of a book.

BTW, in case it isn't clear, I don't think O'Reilly should open source their books. But I do think they should be on the web, in full text and indexed by a search engine, etc.

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