Sunday, July 30, 2006

Poor Charles Petzold

Seems like Charles Petzold doesn't know how to pay for his website. Or for his flat. Or his food. Because he is so poor. He has written a book about Windows Programming some time ago (a book, I own in the hardcover version). Included in the hardcover version is the book itself in electronic version. Which is simply GREAT. Not only can you search in the electronic book, the electronic version is in the English original, while I have the book only in German. So, I have almost NEVER used the hardcover version of the book, only the electronic version. I started using the electronic version seven years ago.

But today I couldn't do this. Because I must have been the only person who bought the book.
The fifth edition of Programming Windows includes an EBook version in CHM format on the included CD-ROM. At the time the book was published, this seemed like a good idea.

I'm not sure when it started seeming like a bad idea.

And it must have been me, who send the electronic version to someone putting it "on the internet". Sorry Charles.

So it seems that nobody bought the book, everybody only copied it. Charles has hard data on this, just look at his blog post. And as I mentioned, I know that Charles doesn't know how to pay for food, because his book sells so poorly. Look for yourself at Amazon. As I looked, only Amazon Sales Rank #26,691 (15,311 the day before). Which is rather poor, for a book updated 1998.

But Charles is in for a surprise, if he finds out that people use modern technology called 'Scanners' and 'OCR'. In a process, for which I don't have time to explain here, people 'scan' books, extract the text by a magical technology called 'OCR' and even put the final thing, mainly in a obsucre format called 'PDF' (the format of choice of all book 'pirates'), on the, lo and behold, 'Internet'.

Poor Charles.

I could try to explain, that if I would be interested in WPF (Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation), which I'm not, I wouldn't buy his book, because what good is a book for software development, you can't search? Unless of course, Charles is writing fiction just like John Grisham or J.K. Rowling and his book is intended to be read by the fireside, with a glass of red wine and some nice smoke (no, I don't smoke and I don't have a fireside).

I could try to explain, that if would be interested in obtaining a 'pirated' electronic version of his book, I could simply 'go on the internet', use something called 'P2P' (look it up, Charles, you could learn something, P2P is mainly the hiding place of people exchanging kiddy pron, bomb plans of Al-Q and Charles Petzold's books), no matter if his stupid book contains a CD or not. And that he does only hurt the people buying the book and the people who aren't interested in buying his book (and just want a electronic version for free) don't give a damn if the hardcover contains a CD. And most don't even care about hardcovers, softcovers and CDs anymore. They will get an electronic version even if Charles doesn't supplies one...

But I'm afraid that Charles wouldn't understand. He just sees that his work is being 'pirated' and these 'pirates' must be stopped. Good luck Charles, I'm afraid you don't understand your enemy (one could even argue if there really is an enemy) and understanding you enemy is the first step in winning a war. A war you seem to be starting.

Please don't stop there now. You have start sueing! Use lawyers.

And by the way, isn't it unfair, that people pay only once for your book? You should use some material for your books, that destroys itself after a year. So you could charge every year for your book. Just imagine how rich you could get.

I'm certain there is much more money to be made, by taking away value for the paying customer, but you might want to talk to the movie or music mafia about that, Charles.

Good luck on your endeavour to end electronic 'pircay', you will need it.

Petzold Book Blog - EBooks and Piracy

(Just unsubscriped from his RSS stream. Oh, my, I just realized, I could simply copy his blog entries on my website, just like people did with his book! Evil HTTP! Evil HTML! Evil RSS! Evil TCP/IP! Evil ASCII! Evil Computers! Charles, please stop publishing your blog or you will be pirated!)

You know what, I will just do that, 'pirate' his complete blog entry.

EBooks and Piracy

July 29, 2006
Roscoe, NY

Several people have asked me: Will my WPF book come with an electronic version?

The fifth edition of Programming Windows includes an EBook version in CHM format on the included CD-ROM. At the time the book was published, this seemed like a good idea.

I'm not sure when it started seeming like a bad idea. Perhaps it was the first time I saw the entire text of my book (decompiled from the CHM into HTML files) on somebody else's web site. Or perhaps it was the second or third time. Or when I lost count.

Perhaps it was getting word that these public postings of the book were just the tip of the iceberg, and that the EBook was freely circulated among certain circles.

Perhaps it was the number of emails I've received requesting an index for the book. (Of course, the printed edition has an index; it's the EBook that doesn't.)

Or perhaps it was the email I got from a programmer in a faraway land who proudly told me that he finally broke down and bought a printed copy of the book, unlike everybody else he knew.

Whatever the reason, I have to consider the experiment with the Programming Windows EBook to be a failure.

It's too bad. I know that an EBook is convenient for searching. I know that an EBook is convenient for reading on public transportation. I know that an EBook is convenient for taking on the road when visiting clients. I know that some people would prefer sampling a downloadable EBook in the spirit of "try before you buy" (much like shareware), and that I might even sell a few more books this way. I know that an EBook saves trees and doesn't take up valuable shelf space.

My experience, however, is that it doesn't work. We would all like it to work, but nobody seems to know how.

So the answer, unfortunately is: No.

(c) Copyright Charles Petzold

Charles has a lot of information about WPF on his blog, don't buy his book, just copy his blog!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wish there were more intellectuals like you in Germany (and the whole world).

Stupid Charles doesnt know about the OCR - I dont think he is technologically savvy. In my country, everyone has OCRs and has the time to scan every book and mail it to everyone they know (while shouting "freedom from people restricting knowledge"). I have done it too and boy, was it a rush!

There are very few intellectuals left in this world - like you; and too many stupid dumb bozos - like Charles; sigh!

You keep fighting the good fight pal. And sshh! I wont tell anyone you pirated Charles' blog posting by using high technology. Telling you man, only an intellectual like you could come up with a copy-paste idea!