Why Autotools Mythbuster is not a published ebook

I have already expressed that my time lately is so limited that there is no hope for me to catch a breath (today I’m doing triple shifts to be able to find the time to read Ghost Story the latest in The Dresden Files novels’ series, that was released today, oh boy do I love eBooks?). So you might probably understand why even Autotools Mythbuster hasn’t seen much improvement over the past month and something.

But I have considered its future during this time. My original idea of trying to write this down for a real publisher was shot down: the only publisher who expressed something more than “no interest at all”, was the one which had already a book on queue on the topic. The second option, that was to work on it during spare time, finding the time through donations covering the time spent on the task. This also didn’t fly much, if at all.

One suggestion I’ve been given was to make the content available in print – for instance through lulu – or as a more convenient offline read, as a properly formatted ebook. Unfortunately, this seems to be overly complex for very little gain. First of all, the main point of doing this should have been to give it enough visibility and get back some money for the time spent on writing it, so simply adding PDF and ePub generation rules to the guide wouldn’t be much of an improvement.

The two obvious solutions were, as noted, lulu, and on the other hand Amazon’s Kindle Store. The former, though, is a bit complex because any print edition would just be a snapshot of the guide at some point in time, not complete and just an early release, at any point in time. While it would probably still get me something, I don’t think it is “right” for me to propose such an option. I originally hoped for the Kindle Store to be more profitable and still ethic, but read on.

While there are some technical issues with producing a decent ePub out of a DocBook “book” – even O’Reilly isn’t getting something perfect out of their ePubs, both when read on the Sony Reader and with iPad’s iBooks – that isn’t the main issue with the plan. The problem is that Amazon seems to make Kindle e-books much more similar to print books than we’d like to.

While as an author you can update the content of your book, to replace it with an updated version with more, corrected content, the only way for the buyer to get the new content is to pay again in full for the item. I can probably guess that this was done likely on purpose and almost as likely with at least partially with an intent to protect the consumer from the producer who might replace the content of any writing without the former’s intervention, but this is causing major pain in my planning, which in turn cause this method to not be viable either.

What I am planning on adding is simply a PDF version, with a proper cover (but I need a graphic project for it), and a Flattr QR Code, that can then be read offline. But that’s not going to make the guide any more profitable, which means it won’t get any extra time…

2 thoughts on “Why Autotools Mythbuster is not a published ebook

  1. The actual merge should not be much trouble…unless git is bugged for our use case and mangles history in our usage case. I do notice though that I never touched some of the new files and the merge shows them as new without detecting your tree.I had a few minor edits and then realised I did not have all of your new stuff in my clone and so git pull reported conflicts. git rebase did not fix the issue and so I had to merge a couple of conflicts and then everything went smooth.The largest portion of that merge is actually your new work and so it should be mostly trivial stuff.

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  2. Though I flattrd it, I would pay more for an epub, which I really find readable on my cellphone. PDF’s are mostly a strain to read on my phone though.

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