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Serializing CSS: The Definitive Guide

A new approach to publishing for a classic title.

By Eric Meyer, Author and Simon St.Laurent, Editor

O’Reilly is taking a new approach to publishing one of its classics, CSS: The Definitive Guide. The Fourth Edition will arrive in bookstores sometime soon, but long before then you’ll be able to buy sections of the book on more tightly-focused topics. The first three just came out:

We expect that this will work better for readers, the author, and the publisher, but the reasons are all different even though they interlock.

For readers

Some readers tell us (O’Reilly) that they want the latest and greatest and don’t worry as much about quality. Some readers tell us that they want every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. Serialization lets us achieve both of those goals. The content comes out much faster, but it’s already been copyedited, reviewed, and illustrated. There may be updates to come if the content changes or errata (inevitably) turns up, but O’Reilly has polished each piece before its release. It may not yet be perfect, but it should be comparable to our usual finished books.

CSS: The Definitive Guide is large and getting larger as CSS grows. The writing process will take a long time, and in the traditional model content written at the beginning might wait a year or more to see customers. This new approach gets content out, and makes it much easier to fix things when content goes out of date.

With serialization, readers get much faster access to the most recent information, and customers who buy the ebooks will also get updates if the pieces they buy change. They can also buy the pieces secure in the knowledge that if they want to buy the whole thing later, O’Reilly will make sure they don’t lose their early investment: we’ll make sure that the price paid for the pieces becomes a discount on the larger work for readers who want the whole thing eventually.

You can also pick which pieces you want. Some people want huge definitive books. Others want just the pieces that fit their particular focus. If you only need three pieces of CSS: The Definitive Guide, you’l be able to buy just those three pieces. Read more…

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