Why would a publisher delay publishing a new book in ebook form? E.g.:


It is 2015. Is the thinking that they are to make more money from the hardback sales, or is there some other technical reason?

  • 2
    I think it is a bit difficult to try to answer this. Basically, every publisher has its own policies. – Sekhemty Jul 12 '15 at 8:42
  • I suspect so. Perhaps an insider could provide some insight. – bgoodr Jul 12 '15 at 14:27
  • O'Reilly publishes in e-book form (and without DRM). Afaik, he publishes only technical books. Many technical books can be found in digital form on the web (legally), though ogten as HTML or PDF. Many are former editions (sometimes current editions) of books that are for sale in print. Some technical books are rather inconvenient to use in ebook form, or some ebook forms. Sometimes I like to keep my fingers on many different pages. Screen size may also be a problem. – babou Feb 6 '16 at 11:18

One reason is that formatting a technical book for printing is 10x easier than formatting it for ebook. Often, people are using Adobe Indesign to handle the difficult formatting issues and while there is an epub export function, I'm guessing that it can't handle technical issues across platforms easily. When you print, you need only to worry about how the printed book looks.

Another issue to think about is that some technical books just work better as printed books. Stuff with lots of diagrams, indices, oversized pages. Sometimes programming books are hard to view as ebooks because the lines of code are hard to look at one page at a time while in printed books there is the possibility of having them on back to back pages. I have the wonderful Docbook XSL book by Bob Staynton, and even though the full book is online http://www.sagehill.net/docbookxsl/ I eventually bought a hard copy because I felt more comfortable putting paperclips on key pages and keeping it near my side as a reference. Some references work better in print form for that reason.

One final thought is that because Amazon decided not to sell PDFs and ibooks doesn't do so either, the publisher can't just sell PDFs except from their own stores. It involves setting up an Adobe content server which manages the DRM. That's a lot of unnecessary work. I suspect if Amazon sold PDFs directly or if a company like Scribd became more popular selling PDF, then this argument would disappear because publishers could just reuse the PDF they used for the print copy.

By the way, I used to say only a few years ago that PDF sucked because it wasn't reflowable and the tablet screens were not large enough. Now, fortunately, 10 inch screens and higher are much more common. so that is no longer a minus for using PDFs for reading it as an ebook.

  • That was quite helpful. My needs for an ebook is allowing clicking on references to diagrams, and clicking on items in the index to drive directly to a place in the book (very time-consuming to do that with a printed book). "10x" is astounding considering the content should be in electronic form already, nowadays (one caveat is that the first edition of the book referenced in the URL I posted dates back to the 80's so that may not apply here). – bgoodr Jul 15 '15 at 15:51
  • If you are happy selling unencrypted PDFs, you can set up your own store or sell it via Smashwords or Scribd so you really only need to produce one PDF for printing and ebooks. It's funny; I used to hate PDFs (and what they stand for), but having a 10 inch ipad in my hands convinced me that it's possible to read a fixed layout ebook in PDF form and not really worry about reflowability or letting readers set font size.... – idiotprogrammer Jul 16 '15 at 4:50

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