It’s funny what the web will turn up. Surfing can lead you to strange ideas from people you never thought you would read or even think to look at.
While surfing today I discovered Adam Greenfield the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of a company called Site5 and on his blog I read about beta books.
The concept is brilliant and explained by Adam thus:
In my opinion, the best way PDF books are used by publishers is in the creation of “Beta Books”. This is a concept I was first exposed to by The Pragmatic Programmers, a publisher with a number of really great programming titles under their belt. A beta book is basically a PDF version of a rough copy of an upcoming title that is currently being finished up.
I checked out the links he provided to The Pragmatic Programmers and was even more impressed. It is incredible to think that this level of innovation is occurring on the edges of publishing and the majors are simply letting it wash by. It reminds me of edgio the aggregator of blog listings and the Newspaper industry or even Craigslist and its service.
Where you really want to look with The Pragmatic Programmers is here on the Beta Books FAQ page. There is a nice quote there explaining their rational:
We decided to trust our readers 🙂 Ultimately, we think the idea of giving you early access to this great material is important. It helps you out, and it’ll help us as we get feedback.
I can only hope programs like this one extend well beyond the fringe very soon.