- PDF versions tend to be a few bucks cheaper
- PDF versions can be purchased and put to use in a matter of minutes
- PDF versions weigh zero pounds, zero ounces
- PDF versions are keyword searchable!
- PDF versions are easily updatable
Because PDFs are easily updateable, we can provide beta access to select titles as works-in-progress. You get early access to critical information (such as Ruby on Rails, which is a rapidly evolving platform) in return for providing feedback to authors. You can get personally involved in the publishing process.
How does it work?
Here’s an example of how this process works.
To begin, an e-mail message arrives to let you know an updated version of your book is available (you can also get this information via RSS).
Looking at your virtual bookshelf, you’ll see that one of your books (Advanced Rails Recipes) has an update available. All you need to do is regenerate the PDF, and our servers get to work.
In a few minutes, you’ll receive another e-mail. This one contains a unique link to your copy of the updated PDF version of the book.
Here’s your updated PDF. At the bottom of each page of the PDF is your registration information—if this copy of the book winds up on a file sharing network, everybody’s going to know who leaked it. (Yes, this method of piracy protection relies heavily on he honors system, but really, so does the print version. It’s not hard to hire a student to scan every page of a book, if you really wanted to.)
Also at the bottom of each page is a link to “report erratum.” This takes you to the errata page for the book:
If you find a problem in the beta book, you can quickly submit it for consideration, or look up corrections submitted by others.
For all of the Pragmatic Programmer’s books, you can order the paper version just as easily (you can even order the paper and PDF versions as a combo for a few dollars more). You get access to cutting edge material, and can even give feedback on the book itself if you want. Best of all, you can have an entire reference library on your laptop—no trips to the chiropractor required.