This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2003-10-27 at 12:00 p.m.
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First Two Take Control Ebooks Take Off!

by Adam C. Engst

Perhaps we can't quite compete with the sales volume of the iTunes Music Store's first few days, but the sales of our first two Take Control ebooks have still utterly exceeded our initial expectations, with nearly 3,000 copies sold so far. The last week has been tiring and stressful, but in the end, we were able to put all the pieces together just in time.


Take Control of Upgrading to Panther -- We published Joe Kissell's "Take Control of Upgrading to Panther" at exactly 8 PM on Friday, October 24th, matching Panther's release in our time zone to the minute. As soon as the Web pages went live, the orders started flooding in, some coming even from people who were waiting in line at Apple Stores that hadn't yet opened; taking advantage of the free AirPort network at the stores, they managed to order and read Joe's advice on iBooks and PowerBooks before going inside and buying Panther.

So what ground does Joe cover? He starts at the beginning, walking you through seven steps you should take before you even think about inserting the first Panther CD into your Mac, things like backing up your hard disk and repairing permissions. Then he looks in depth at which installation option is right for your situation, discussing exactly what each does. The actual installation process is easy, but what do you do if you can't get it started, or if your Mac won't start up after it's complete? Joe provides answers to five common problems in a troubleshooting section, and for those unlucky souls for whom Panther proves problematic (hey, we're realistic - it happens), Joe provides a number of ways you can downgrade to your previous version of the Mac OS. For those upgrading from Mac OS 9, and for those who want the cleanest possible installation, Joe gives special steps, and he throws in a bonus section that lists URLs for downloading updates to some common bits of hardware and software.

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Worth $5? We've already heard from a number of people that Joe's 52-page ebook is worth several times more, but personally I think Joe's ebook is worth it for the peace of mind alone. I've done plenty of installations, but I wouldn't have thought to disable all my Login items before installing, and given that the previous versions of both QuicKeys X and Default Folder cause instantaneous and distressing problems, the advice was extremely welcome.

Take Control of Customizing Panther -- With barely a breather, Tonya and I kept working through Saturday to put the finishing touches on our second title, Matt Neuburg's "Take Control of Customizing Panther." It went live just over a day later, and as with Joe's book, no sooner had we updated the Web site than orders started to arrive.

Where Joe's book leaves off after making sure your installation has been as smooth as possible, Matt steps up next to help you customize Panther so it works exactly the way you want it to. If you haven't read Joe's book, or if you're experiencing installer's remorse, Matt explains how you can install some of the optional pieces of Panther after the fact, along with why you'd want to. He then looks at four of the aspects of Panther that you can customize to the best effect, Finder windows, keyboard shortcuts for menu items (globally, or in a specific application), Panther's new Exposé feature, and your font menu through the almost devilishly confusing Font Book application. He finishes off with a look at a miscellany of smaller customizations you can (and probably will want to) perform.

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If Matt's 29-page book saves you from trying to figure out how Font Book is (or isn't) enabling your fonts, I think that alone would be worth $5, and his warnings about customizing Exposé are equally valuable.

Early Lessons Learned -- It's impossible to foresee everything, and we fielded a number of questions and comments in the hours after our initial release.

Stay Tuned -- We won't have any more titles for a week or two, thanks to travel and needing to incorporate everything we've learned so far into our systems. So read Joe's and Matt's books, and rest assured that the rest of our authors are utterly jazzed by Joe's and Matt's success and are hard at work on additional titles. Thanks for believing in us on this one.