We pretty much invented the beta book program: a way for readers to get access to a book as it is being written, and a way for authors to get feedback to guide the content they’re producing. Normally, beta books are delivered as eBooks—PDFs, mobi files for your Kindle, or ePubs for your other electronic readers and the iPhone.
But sometimes reading on the screen just isn’t enough. Sometimes you need paper sitting next to you as you work, or by the side of your bed as you go to sleep. So we’re trying something new.
The Beta on Paper program lets you order a printed copy of the current version of a beta book. Your order heads off to our gerbils, who’ll print whatever is the current version of the book. They’ll then ship it to you just like we’d ship you any other paper book you ordered.
What does a Beta on Paper book look like?
It looks pretty much like any of our regular books. You may find the paper is a little thinner, and we can’t (yet) put lay-flat bindings on these books, but it’s a real book with a real cover.
What about the content?
The Beta on Paper book is printed from the same text, figures, and markup that we use to create the beta eBooks. You’ll find the paper book has all the same content, the same typos, comments from the author to the readers, bad page breaks, and so on. These are not the finished books—they’re a work in progress.
How do you price the Beta on Paper books?
We try to price them at just a little more than the corresponding eBook. Low volume printing like this is a lot more expensive than printing on conventional presses.
Do I get free updates?
The Beta-on-Paper purchase is a snapshot; you’ll get a paper copy of the current version of the book, warts and all. We will not ship you updated paper books on each release. For continuous updates, you can also get the eBook. The eBook for a Beta is updated during the lifetime of the Beta and beyond, for the lifetime of that edition of the book. You can download fresh eBook versions anytime you like from your account.
What about combo packs?
You can buy the final paper book in combination with the eBook for a substantial discount. However, we don’t currently plan to do a combo pack discount for the Beta on Paper book.
What about returns?
There are no returns on Beta on Paper books.
Why are you doing this?
We’re not doing this as a grand get-rich-quick-and-buy-a-yacht scheme (if you want to know what that scheme is, send $10 to…). Instead, we’re experimenting with new ways of getting timely information our to readers. The beta book program has been massively popular (and often copied). We think it’s because developers appreciate being able to get access to quality information early. But some folks still want paper—this is our first attempt to satisfy this need.