This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2014-02-03 at 11:09 a.m.
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Experimenting with “Take Control of Pages” Pre-book on Leanpub

by Adam C. Engst

After years of fielding customer requests for “Take Control of Pages [1],” we are excited to bring you a “pre-book” about Pages, Apple’s word processing app. This pre-book brings you over 100 pages of fully edited text about Pages 5 on the Mac, as well as the current iOS and iCloud versions of Pages. We plan to release frequent updates for those who buy the pre-book through the Leanpub service; the final ebook will be available normally on the Take Control site and will be a free update to everyone who purchases now for $15. The 30 percent discount for TidBITS members applies; visit the Member Benefits [2] page to follow the necessary link.

Why this new approach? And why aren’t we streaming it chapter-by-chapter as we’ve done with several other titles? Let me explain!

Creating a book that helps the reader “take control” of a full-featured word processor like Pages is an ambitious project that would take even our agile Take Control crew a number of months to draft, edit, and publish, and that’s if the software itself didn’t change during that time. But Apple has said that Pages 5 will see notable enhancements in 2014, and Pages for iCloud is still officially in beta. That uncertainty makes “Take Control of Pages [3]” unsuitable for streaming in TidBITS, and it also means that, were we to put off writing until Apple wraps up Pages 5, Pages 6 might come out before we finished!

So, with author Michael E. Cohen, we’ve devised this “pre-book” approach in order to bring you up to speed with Pages 5 and the current iOS and iCloud versions, even as they evolve. For this project, we’re working closely with our friends at Leanpub, because the Leanpub service was designed for frequent updates, which we expect to put out every few weeks. All of these updates will be free to owners of the pre-book and will be easy to identify in the book.

What’s a “pre-book”? It’s the first chunk of a long book, composed carefully as part of a full outline, and pored over by a pair of editors who have checked for everything from technical accuracy to tone, from clarity to comma placement. When you buy the “Take Control of Pages” pre-book from Leanpub [4], you can download PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket versions; these look much like those for any standard Take Control title except that you’ll access them and get updates from Leanpub rather than the Take Control Web site. Once all the content is in place and we believe Apple’s pace of development has slowed (later in 2014), we’ll publish the ebook just like any other Take Control title — remember, it will be a free update for owners of the pre-book — and you’ll be able to add it to your Take Control library.

So what’s in the “Take Control of Pages [5]” pre-book? Right now, it takes a “Find My Feature” approach, revealing the locations of the tools in Pages and providing fundamental advice on using them:

All the above is in the pre-book now. Although our final outline may change, we’re planning the following chapters for future installments:

In the first few days, Leanpub has performed admirably, and “Take Control of Pages [6]” quickly found itself on Leanpub’s bestseller lists [7], which was gratifying. The next step in the experiment will be seeing how smoothly the update process goes in a few weeks; we’ll be interested in hearing your feedback! And, of course, if there’s something you want to see in the book that’s not on our list, let us know.