Electronic books: real-life data

I had my yearly “paperwork day” today. As part of that ordeal I was sorting the Cisco Press book sales reports and stumbled across e-book data for my MPLS VPN books. I can’t tell you how well the Safari access is doing (electronic subscriptions are bundled with numerous totally unrelated items into the “Others” category), but the reports have separate line items for PDF and Mobile (I assume that’s Kindle) edition. The sales of these editions are negligible compared to the “regular” sales.

Obviously even the highly technical audience is not interested in electronic books (or someone bought a single PDF copy that’s now enjoyed by the whole Internet) ... or you feel (like I do) that the reference books belong on the bookshelf.


  1. I prefer ebooks :)
  2. Looking at my bookshelf and my Amazon account I obviously like printed books best.
  3. I have just recently gotten into eBooks: Kindle (Windows free edition), PDF, etc. Here's what I like about them:

    - Generally they are cheaper
    - If I have my computer, I have any book at my fingertips. I have my computer open for note-taking most of the time when reading a technical book anyway. I live a nomadic lifestyle and lugging my books around is not my idea of fun.
    - The FIND function (Kindle for Windows doesn't have this yet, but I'm sure it'll come)
    - Impatience of waiting for a book to ship
    - For highlighting and note-taking, I have appreciated the screen-clip function of Microsoft OneNote that also lets you "copy picture as text," for quick and easy OCR

    The scary part is how easy it is to buy one, particularly on Amazon. With one-click I can have immediate gratification without even getting out of the chair. My wallet (or wife) does not appreciate that part.
  4. First, thank you for your excellent blog.

    Second, my humble opinion on miserable sales of Cisco Press e-books is that their price set little bit high for a thing consisting of 1s and 0s. Just compare Amazon price for good old material dead trees version of your mpls vpn ebook (64$ with S&H) with the price of e-book edition (46$). This 18$ saving is just plain ridiculous, especially then same 1s and 0s are easily available on nearby bittorrent site. Nobody is willing to feed corporate greed from their own pocket, and it is hard to justify spending 50$ on a copy that costs essentially 0$ to produce.

    Yes, I know -- authors need to pay their bills too, but do not be surprised that (relatively) very expensive stuff sells bad. It is like complaining that people prefer to borrow or photocopy userful book you priced at 500$ just because you are monopoly and can set arbitrary prices instead of getting real and trying to maximize prophits by experimenting with pricing schemes. Personally I'm quite ok with 4.99$ OReilly titles (they are mostly 5$ in local App Store), but cannot imagine ebook that I'm willing to buy for 50$ until my employer agrees to pay by e-book bills. My personal limit seems to be around 20$ for new Thomas Pynchon novel :)

    There is an article in NYT [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/business/media/01ebooks.html] on similar topic, which is quite hot now in anticipation of Apple iPad release. Lets see in a year -- maybe it could do for eBook market same thing that iPod did for music and iPhone for mobile apps.

    Disclaimer: I did not steal any of your books, and English is not my first language -- sorry for awkward phrasing.
  5. I agree with most of your points. Thanks for the feedback, it's very valuable (I'm trying to figure out how to write my own e-books).
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