Tuesday, May 08, 2012

An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups, 3rd Edition

My first book, An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups continues to sell very well, considering that there's essentially no marketing budget for it and it's spreading only by word of mouth. I recently ran out of the 2nd edition printing, and coincidentally, there were a few updates that needed to go in for the 3rd edition.

Over the last 2 years, it's clear that the market for books that are mostly text has shifted dramatically. When I first started selling books, printed copies accounted for 70% of sales while digital copies were the other 30%. Now it's the other way around and the tide continues to shift in favor of ebooks. As such, the costs of storing, shipping, and postage of printed books is no longer worth the amount of additional revenue I get.

Fortunately, Amazon is happy to print and ship books on an on-demand basis, so that's what I will do for printed books. This unfortunately means increased prices: Amazon wants their pound of flesh, so printed copies now cost $43.95 a pop, as opposed to $29.95. On the other hand, if the book is popular, Amazon could discount it, and of course, Amazon provides free shipping. For a limited time, you can pre-order the 3rd edition at the old price ($29.95 + shipping) from the book's web-page. I need to order copies for the freebies as well as for the library of congress, so you would be pigging back on this process. (I also need to look over the final proof one more time)

The new edition features new sections on green cards, surviving a big acquisition, negotiating between co-founders, as well as an expanded financial planning section that was asked for by readers. In addition, my friend Scarlet Tang has re-designed the cover. One big disappointment was that I had moved the book over to InDesign CS 5.5 in the hopes of producing an EPUB and Kindle-compatible editions. Unfortunately, InDesign CS 5.5 crashes whenever it attempts to export an EPUB, so I'm stuck with still only shipping PDFs. You can still use Mobipocket creator to create a Kindle edition from the PDF, but the results were not satisfactory to me, so I'll let those who want to do this bear the consequences for it.

As with the 2nd edition, everyone who's bought a copy within the last month (i.e., from April 8th) gets a free digital copy of the book. For everyone else, upgrade pricing is available. Note that you can only upgrade from a 2nd edition to the 3rd edition. No skipping from the 1st edition to the 3rd edition for $12.50. Note that Kindle edition owners do not get upgrades, nor will the Kindle version get updated to the 2nd edition. It's $9.95, which is already a hefty discount. As I've previously mentioned, if you're actively job-hunting, the full version is what you want. If you're poor or in school, then by all means buy the Kindle edition.

As for my other books, expect them to go in the same direction as the print copies run out. I aim to be done with shipping and handling by the end of the year if not sooner.
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