New Rough Cuts Provides Early Access to O'Reilly Books

by Derrick Story

I have a friend whose favorite saying is, "Anything worth doing is worth doing fast." It's the perfect mantra for online publishing, but not so easy for books. Or is it?

O'Reilly has just introduced Rough Cuts. It's a service that gives you access to books before they're published. These early chapters won't be fully edited or formatted for print. They will, however, be very current.

The first Rough Cuts are Flickr Hacks, Ajax Hacks, the Ruby Cookbook, and Ruby on Rails: Up and Running.

When you buy a book via the Rough Cuts service, you get access to an evolving PDF manuscript. You can download and print it, or read it online. You also have a chance to shape the final product through your suggestions, bug fixes, and comments made directly to the author and editors through Safari's Notes feature.

There's a great story behind this product's evolution. You might want to read Tim O'Reilly's post on The Long Snout. As far as I'm concerned, it's a glimpse into the future of book publishing.


2006-01-23 22:43:33
Paying double???
It sounded like a great idea until I saw that I'm expected to pay for the book twice if I want the early access. And, for that double fee O'Reilly would love it if I would help them edit the book by reporting errors. Are you guys joking?
2006-01-24 00:42:39
Paying double???
I'm expected to pay for the book twice if I want the early access.

Actually not. You're expected to pay for the early access if you want the early access. You're expected to pay for the early access and the print book if you want both.

Of course, I'd also prefer to get just the early access for free. I'd probably review many more books than I'll be able to do now, and I might actually buy more books, too. But whether that makes business sense for O'Reilly.. well, that's up to them to decide.

So I guess that no, they're not joking. AFAIK, Rough Cuts isn't much different from the Pragmatic Programmers' Beta Books.

2006-01-25 15:02:09
Paying double???
Right -- it's what Otto said (below) -- we're selling the early access PDF at a steep discount from the final price of the print book, the book alone at a discounted price, and the combo at a price that's only a bit more than the price you'd pay in the bookstore. For example, most hacks books have a list price of either $24.95 or $29.95.

(I warned the marketing folks that they needed to show the price as a discount off the list price or people would be confused!)