At last! Ever since we started Take Control in 2003, people have been taking our heavily linked and thoroughly digital ebooks and, well, printing them. Although one of our goals was to reduce the amount of paper used on quickly obsolete technical books, there’s no question that many people prefer to read on paper for undeniably good reasons. And more to the point, some of our ebooks, such as Joe Kissell’s "Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac" and "Take Control of Upgrading to Tiger" and parts of Sharon Zardetto Aker’s "Take Control of Fonts in Mac OS X", simply cannot be read onscreen while you follow their instructions unless you have a second Mac handy.
One of the big reasons we shied away from producing print versions of our ebooks on our own was that the costs of inventory and fulfillment of physical product are more than a tiny business like Take Control can handle. We’ve produced print versions of a few of our ebooks with Peachpit Press, but the process is sufficiently time-consuming that it’s worthwhile only for select titles. The real answer was print-on-demand, where we could upload a PDF file to a service and owners of our ebooks could order a print version whenever they wished, keeping us out of the loop entirely. Although many firms claim to do some form of print-on-demand, most didn’t offer the quality or services we needed, so it’s taken a long time to get everything set up.
But all the waiting has merely increased the pleasure of accomplishment. We’re excited to announce that owners of Joe’s "Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac" can now, by clicking the Check for Updates button in the lower left corner of the PDF’s first page, access a link from which they can purchase a print-on-demand edition of the book. We’re testing with "Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac" initially; if everything goes well, we will start adding print-on-demand versions of our other ebooks. It is worth noting a few facts about this print-on-demand service:
The only way to buy a print copy is to purchase the ebook first; the pricing of the print copies takes into account the fact that you already own the ebook. Prices are based on page count and have an added $0.25 per copy that we’ll be donating to some worthy charity that’s nice to trees. Shipping is extra; various options are available.
The print versions are scaled to a 7 x 9-inch trim size (18 x 23 cm) to reduce the font size to what’s expected in print, have laminated color covers, and use wire-o bindings so they lie flat on your desk (or can be folded back entirely). They’re printed double-sided, and we generate new PDF files to ensure the highest possible graphics quality.
You can purchase a print copy with either a black-and-white or color interior. The black-and-white version is very good, but the color version is utterly gorgeous. Unfortunately, the cost of printing in color is higher ($26 versus $11), so we’ve left the choice up to you.
We’re using a print-on-demand company called QOOP for this print service. That means ordering takes place in a different online shopping cart system than we use for our ebooks. Honestly, the ordering process is a little clumsy and there’s an annoying Terms of Service agreement you must accept even though it doesn’t apply to us and our customers, but we’re working with QOOP to improve the cart.
We consider this a print service that enables you to avoid using your own paper and ink on printing our ebooks. The bound book is far more elegant and easier to use than loose sheets; it’s easier than baby-sitting your printer through printing hundreds of pages and replacing ink cartridges; and the print quality will likely be higher. On the downside, QOOP’s print service is slightly more expensive because of the costs of binding, providing a cover, and shipping, and of course, it takes longer for them to print and ship a book than it does for you to print it on your own printer. (But of course, you have the ebook to read for instant gratification.) You can learn more and see pictures of what the print-on-demand copies look like.
So if you’ve been waiting for a print version of "Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac," give our new print service a try and let us know what you think! Remember, to get started ordering a print-on-demand copy, click the Check for Updates button in your copy of Joe’s ebook.