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Betas on Paper! Printed beta books from Pragmatic Bookshelf

January 13, 2010

It’s a new year, and we’ve got a bunch of new and cool things planned. First up is our new Beta on Paper program: imagine the latest version of the latest beta book available on real paper. The first Beta on Paper will be available next week.

Our 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 sometimes you need that information on paper—and now we’ve got you covered.

Read on for details.

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News Bits

But first, a couple of news bits: Both authors of our iPhone SDK Development book have brand new apps on Apple’s app store. Chris Adamson’s Road Tip helps you find the restaurants, hotels, and gas stations you need on your next trip. Bill Dudney’s Foto Brisko helps casual photographers find photos that they love and want to try to capture themselves.

Codemash is this week; you’ll find a couple of the Pragmatic authors, editors, and publishers there.

Then on February 23-26, 2010, we’re sponsoring USENIX FAST ’10 in San Jose, CA. You can early register by February 8th at

Beta on Paper

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.

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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.

Beta on Paper books look 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 the these books, but it’s a real book with a real cover.

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 markup, 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.

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 on

Next week, we’ll make the first Beta on Paper available, for the new title SQL Antipatterns:

SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming will show you how to design and build databases, how to write better database queries, and how to integrate SQL programming with your application like an expert. You’ll also learn the best and most current technology for full-text search, how to design code that is resistant to SQL injection attacks, and other techniques for success.

See for details.

We hope you’ll enjoy the ability to get your favorite beta book in printed form. We’ll be rolling out this feature on new beta books as they are announced, across whatever new and exciting technologies come over the horizon.

Stay tuned for a very exciting year.

Coming Soon:

Recently Released:

Thanks for your continued support,

Andy & Dave