On e-book vs. printed book sales, Mobile Web Design, and CSS Mastery 2
~ 16 October 2009 ~
This post will most likely come off as a ramble of sorts, but I’m okay with that. I figure I write enough stuff carefully crafted, from punctuation to grammar to sentence structure, that I can afford a break once in a while. Even if publicly.
Speaking of writing, this post is all about that. Let’s start with a question I’m asked occasionally by those of you considering authoring something of your own: Should I sell my book as a PDF or publish it in print (either via Lulu or a publisher)?
First of all, if you’re considering self-publishing, I’ve already written about the ups and downs of that. To answer your question specifically, I feel comfortable sharing sales numbers from my self-published Mobile Web Design. I’ve never been one to shy away from lending a hand to the community, even if it puts my own business data at (minor) risk.
Mobile Web Design was self-published two years ago, available as PDF e-book or printed book through Lulu and also available on Amazon (a service provided by Lulu). To date, the sales numbers are as follows:
- 3,060 copies sold as PDF
- 2,757 copies sold in print
Those aren’t huge numbers, but keep in mind this is a self-published book, and there are no free downloads — every one of those copies have been paid for. I’m thrilled with the fact that nearly 6,000 copies have been sold.
So, if you’re wondering what the ratio of e-book to printed book is, for me it’s about 1:1. This may vary for your book. Hopefully this helps answer the question.
Okay, on to point #2, but still on topic of Mobile Web Design. Will there be a second edition?
I hope so. It all depends on, not surprisingly, whether or not I can make the time for it. Bear in mind the book was published two years ago — and only one month after iPhone came out — so the text is a bit dated at this point. The mobile landscape has changed dramatically since then. Fortunately, I wrote it to withstand the ebb and flow of technology by focusing more on concepts than devices and other technical details, but nonetheless it could use an update.
If I do make the time, the text will advocate a much more forward-looking approach. The first edition was authored with the general recommendation of catering to all web-enabled mobile devices on the market. But as we all know, if you try to be something for everyone, no one is served. So, if there is to be a second edition, it will be about catering exclusively to those devices and browsers that do mobile web stuff well: iPhone, Palm Pre, Android, Webkit, Opera Mobile, and so forth.
This was the recommendation I made when speaking at Web Design World in Seattle over the summer. If you’ve got a what might be considered a “forward-looking” device and/or browser, you can view and examine the demo site I threw together at this address: tr.im/roma. Good luck with that if you’re on a Blackberry or Windows Mobile device.
This demo site reflects how my approach has changed in the last two years. I won’t bother taking the time now to talk about what to do about less-advanced devices. We’ll have to save that for the second edition. (Note: Only the home page and Explore / Popular Destination pages work.)
Okay, point #3. The mobile demo site grew out of another demo site I created earlier, this one for the second edition of CSS Mastery, which, as of yesterday, is available for purchase. This is being released with less fanfare than Andy Budd, Simon Collison, or myself would prefer, but I believe it’s because we’ve all been swamped lately. But no worries, we’ll be trumpeting some stuff soon.
My role in this second edition was largely the same as the first: a case study site and chapter describing my techniques. There’s some pretty nifty CSS stuff at play in my demo site — multiple backgrounds, multi-column text,
@font-face, and the like. Lots of jQuery interaction stuff, too. Simon’s case study site demos much of the same, and Andy has updated the text throughout the book.
The Roma Italia site is based on a vacation Suzanne and I enjoyed in Rome, with all photos and video for the site from that vacation. Sorry, this site isn’t available for viewing just yet. For that, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. (Note: The mobile site is not included in the book.)
Wow, that wasn’t so bad. Probably a few typos and poorly written sentences here and there, but hey. Hope it was worth reading.
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