[lug] Ebook distribution, royalties, and piracy

Jonathan Corbet corbet-bldrlug at lwn.net
Fri Aug 15 16:08:14 MDT 2008

On Fri, 15 Aug 2008 15:01:48 -0600
"Ben Whaley" <bwhaley at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm wondering if anyone subscribed to the list is an author of a book
> (technical or otherwise) that has been published electronically. In
> particular, does anyone have a book on Safari? 

Linux Device Drivers is on Safari, though I don't think it's on
anything more contemporary.

> Have you run in to
> piracy problems (torrents in particular)? How did it work with your
> publisher? What percentage of the royalties do you get? Any other
> tips/tricks/off-topic flames/dos and donts?

I've not had piracy problems, but, then, releasing a book under a
creative commons license does tend to cut back on that a bit.  As far
as royalties, the percentage is about the same as with the dead-trees
edition.  Safari has never been more than a small percentage of the
total royalties from the book; others may have a different experience,
I don't know.

Coming from where I do, I'd suggest you consider releasing the book
under a free license.  I've never been able to get numbers from
O'Reilly or anywhere else on what the effect may be on sales, but it's
my belief that releasing the book has not hurt sales all that badly,
and it has brought vast amounts of goodwill.

Hope that helps,


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