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September 14, 2017

Another Title, But Not Really

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

I do most of my programming stuff on my C For Dummies website, but I thought I’d relate my recent self-publishing efforts here on Wambooli. The TL;DR version: You can now self-publish print books as well as eBooks on Kindle.

The TL;DR thing means “too long, didn’t read.” It’s webspeak for the “get to the point” type of executive summary on a long post or comment. Now you know.

To my surprise, I discovered earlier this year that Wiley declared my 2007 title, Programming’s Guide to nCurses as out-of-print. This is a rare event for me.

It’s unusual that computer book publishers declare a title out-of-print. In fact, not a single For Dummies title has ever been declared out-of-print. I believe this policy has more to do with release of back royalties than any sales data.

The publisher makes the decision to toss a book out-of-print when sales are too low to justify keeping it around. My Ncurses book started out as self-published. I’d written the whole thing, but before I surrendered it to the online pirates, I ran it by my agent. He ran it by the publisher, who was interested. I don’t even think I took an advance on the title.

Over the years it sold in dribs and drabs. Ncurses is a specific programming tool. Especially these days, where programmers first resort to searching the web and then stealing code from github, sales were never going to be tremendous. Still, the book always made some money, so I was surprised when they declared it out-of-print.

As the rights reverted to me, I decided to self-publish the title as an eBook. This process became more involved as I worked on the book, rewrote most of it, and became pleased with the results.

I don’t expect the thing to make a ton of money, but it’s out there now. The eBook is shown below.

After I uploaded and published the book, the automated Kindle publishing robot asked if I wanted to create a paperback version as well.

Hell yes!

That process was a bit more involved; a paperback book has page numbers and formatting and layout issues that I had to contend with. Further, I didn’t bother with an index, which is an expected part of any physical book. The main reason was that I just wanted to publish the thing. And so I did!

Now you have the option of buying the paperback version of the book as well as the electronic copy.

The programmers who have inquired about the book over the years say that they prefer the eBook; it’s easier to reference the book onscreen while they code. I’ve never gotten used to that, being an old fogey who likes printed books. So now I can address both users. And I’ve ordered my own printed copy, just to see how it looks and to marvel at it.

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