I’m pleased to announce a few of my books published in the last six months. I continue to be something of a Dummies specialist – and today I’m reminded that it’s been 20 years ago now since the first book in the series (Hi Dan, I know that ages us).

Today, I’m especially pleased to announce new editions, and second books.

Congratulations to Meri Raffetto and Rosanne Rust on the publication of The Glycemic Index Diet Cookbook for Dummies, a follow-up to Meri’s first book, The Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies. Congrats also to Rosanne and Meri on the Calorie Counter Journal for Dummies.

Congratulations to USA Today columnist Matt Krantz on a new edition of Investing Online for Dummies.

Congratulations to Lee Varis on the publication of the second edition of his bestseller, Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies.

Congratulations to Stephanie Diamond on the publication of her second book, Prezi for Dummies.

Congratulations to Harold Davis on his Creative Portraits, the fifth in his Creative Series (and we have more to come!).

Congratulations to Dan Gookin on the publication of both Droid X for Dummies, and Droid 2 for Dummies.

Congratulations to Gail Perry and Matt Krantz on the first edition of Mint.Com for Dummies.

Congratulations to Rich Wagner on his newest Wrox title, Professional Flash Mobile Development: Creating Android and iPhone Applications.

Congratulations to Sue Jenkins on her Smashing Photoshop CS5.

Congratulations to Barrie Sosinsky on the publication of the Cloud Computing Bible.

Congratulations to John Mueller on his Windows Command Line Administration Instant Reference.

Congratulations, finally, to eBay and online marketing wiz Christopher Spencer on his first two video training courses with Lynda.com: eBay for Sellers Essential Training, and eBay for Buyers, Essential Training.


for retail users. Oh, and the cost will vary depending on which of the four versions you buy.

Volume license users (corporations) may buy Windows today, but I wonder, will they?

Why didn’t Microsoft try to simplify this?

There’s a nice post about this at Monkeybites, Windows Vista is Here! Or Not depending on Who You Are.

November brought us Vista and Zune (Did Microsoft Copy the Wrong iPod?), talk about your anticlimactic product launches.

Thank goodness Gears of War rocks.

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  •   Computer and Technology Books

Time again for Tim O’Reilly’s State of the Computer Book Market Q 3, and it looks like the early gains this year have leveled off. Perhaps worse than that, Tim says —

We suspect that the combination of increasingly sophisticated online information, easier to use Web 2.0 applications, and customer fatigue with new features of overly complex applications, combined with the consolidation of the retail book market, mean that the market will never return to its pre-2000 highs, despite new enthusiasm for Web 2.0 and the technology market in general. In addition, new distribution channels (including downloadable PDFs) are growing up as retailers allocate less space to computer books.

“Will never return?” Pre-2000 numbers were huge compared to today’s market, so I’m sure he’s right, which of course leaves me in a pickle since about half of my business is related to tech titles.

The bottom line for agents as well as authors is that you’ve gotta do more than books, or do more than books in one niche.

As for me, I’m still repping plenty of tech titles but I’m also working on more non-book projects, including documentation deals, white papers, programming gigs, DVDs and more.

I’m also signing a steady stream of general non-fiction. I’m not looking for the long tail but I’m looking for the long score, books that will sell consistently for five or ten years, and books that need to be revised less often.

There are still bestsellers to be had in this tech market, but they’re fewer and farther between.

What will publishers do? Beyond scrabbling for the shelf space that remains, tech publishers are moving online with some alacrity and we’ll see more ebooks from them as well as perhaps more initiatives around online education (note that Hungry Minds pre Wiley acquisition failed at this spectacularly but Thomson picked up Ed2Go.com and that’s a successful business today).

I also expect that publishers will move sideways and try to extend successful tech brands into other niches, ala the “for Dummies” and the “Complete Idiots” series.

Education, anyone? Test prep? Personal finance? Business? How about health and wellness? There’s a lot of room out there for a motivated publisher.


Part 3 of Tim’s State of the Computer Book Industry.

Tim suggests that both Pearson and Wiley lost some market share last quarter, but I won’t be surprised if both companies recapture some of that next year, when and if we see a year of blockbusters. Vista for Dummies can change this chart in a hurry all by itself.

Tim gives the nod to “for Dummies” as the largest imprint (per sales volume) and notes O’Reilly has the largest revenue, but I think that’s a little misleading because there are so many disparate brands in the O’Reilly pantheon (One on One, Head First, Missing Manual, In a Nutshell — I’d almost count those as imprints themselves). Also, it’s also unclear to me if the entire Wiley consumer non-dummies branded books (which are under the same publisher/vp) are included in this calculation.

Despite any erosion, Pearson and Wiley remain the largest publishers in this market by far.

You have to admire O’Reilly’s strategy of “co-optition.” O’Reilly has done a great job of “growth by distribution,” picking up partners like Manning, Pragmatic and No Starch, rather than growing by acquisition. And I like Tim’s very public wooing of APress.

Another interesting point to keep in mind, although the numbers here don’t reflect it, is that Pearson and O’Reilly are partners in Safari, and O’Reilly appears increasingly committed to ebooks as well.

With all these various ventures (and conferences too) O’Reilly has plenty of bets placed all over the board. Considering the topsy-turvy environment of the last few years, I have to think that’s a good strategy.


Again, I suggest that all my tech clients read O’Reilly’s latest analysis of the tech book market, Linked here.

Although a retrospective analysis can’t always tell us where we’re going, and it’s already too late to jump into some of these categories, or do so at your peril, this is a useful picture of where we’ve been recently. And it’s notable that this has some strong messages for business book authors as well regarding topics like data warehousing, business intelligence, and web 2.0. It’s at least possible to extrapolate some ideas out beyond the strict tech book market.

Wouldn’t it be great if we saw mainstream publishing periodicals like Publishers Weekly do this sort of graphical and granular analysis of the entire bookstore market? I hope they’re paying attention.


Tim O’Reilly has posted his new state of the computer book industry.

Unfortunately, Tim writes “While Q1 was consistently higher than any period since the bust in 2001, and looked like we might be about to break out of the narrow range of the past couple of years, Q2 bumped along at about the same level as last year.”

As always, Tim will follow this post with more analysis in the next day or two.

I still expect a big bump with Office, Vista, CS3 and Leopard, eventually. There was little new software activity in the second quarter, which gives me some cause for hope.


Via CNET, this would be funny if it weren’t so sad in regards to the ongoing scheduling saga of computer book authors and publishers everywhere. Microsoft wants customers to “Get Ready Now,” for Vista, which means they want you to upgrade your PC ahead of time and benefit from special offers when the product actually ships. But you know what happens when you upgrade, prices drop the next week, and the “Vista Ready” PC you buy in November is not as capable as the actual Vista machine you buy in January, February or March. Linked.

Of course, as befits an operating system that will ship in many different flavors, you can plan to be “Vista Capable” or you can be “Premium Ready.” CNET quotes the specs — “To be classified as Vista-capable, a computer needs an 800MHz processor, 512MB of memory and a DirectX 9-capable graphics card. Premium Ready machines need a 1GHz processor, 128MB of graphics memory, 1GB of system memory, a 40GB hard drive and an internal or external DVD-ROM drive.”


Tim O’Reilly has posted parts 2 and 3 of his computer book market Bookscan analysis, linked below —

State of the Computer Book Market, Part 2

State of the Computer Book Market, Part 3

It’s been a year since Tim’s first post on this, and I can’t recall any other publisher making a concentrated effort to share analysis in such a public fashion. With Bookscan, obviously, publishers don’t have so many secrets from each other, but O’Reilly shakes and bakes the Bookscan data in some interesting ways, including such measures as “revenue per title” and “title efficiency.”

It’s good to keep in mind that this is based on Bookscan data alone, and doesn’t include some other important revenues sources such as foreign rights sales, ebooks, custom books and special sales, or overseas English language sales.

O’Reilly sees 7% growth in the computer book market compared to last Spring, which is slightly higher than I thought it would be, and extremely welcome news.

An interesting comment regarding lower end books, Tim notes that the “for Dummies” brand remains the dominant consumer brand “in the shrinking category of consumer operating systems”, but also scores well on title efficiency and growth (11% by Tim’s reckoning). It will be interesting to see if the Vista and Office releases will create some true positive momentum in the consumer space, and also if the early adopter growth in Web 2.0 programming titles somehow translates into a minor web title boomlet as consumers learn to work and play in 2.0 style.

Some new players have done well, especially The Pragmatic Programmer’s which grew at 248%. That’s awesome, and shows that O’Reilly made a smart bet with their distribution partners.

Tim notes that the Wrox brand has recovered and prospered, with Wiley doing an excellent job of integrating an ailing imprint — and I’d expect to see the same thing next year with Sybex titles. (You can find Wrox editor Jim Minatel’s comments on Tim’s post here — yes, we do have our mojo back thank you very much).

This is all required reading if you’re writing computer books. No matter what, new growth is definitely great news for the business and it’s nice that we’re seeing some excitement around tech again: Ajax, Ruby, Web 2.0, iTunes and iPods everywhere, a digital camera in every purse, new author-driven models touted at Pragmatic Programmers, and more ebooks from established publishers.


This is worthy reading, O’Reilly’s latest bookscan analysis State of the Computer Book Market, Part 1 shows sustained growth in the technical book market over the last year, and he includes a treemap that shows the relative growth of a variety of categories.

Some interesting data here: Web development titles are up (ASP and Javascript are way up), MS office apps overall are up slightly, but Windows XP sales are down (Windows book sales will improve dramatically once Vista finally ships).

Most noteworthy, according to Tim’s analysis, is that sales seem to be growing for the bestsellers but there is less growth in the backlist, and Tim notes that with growth concentrated in bestsellers, publishers seem to be trimming their title count. This is certainly true for a couple of houses that have undergone some relatively public reductions in title count.

As to which sort of books are doing well these days, Tim suggests that references (a la Java in a Nutshell) have been hit hardest by the web, but notes that O’Reilly at least is seeing growth in the tutorial market (books that can’t easily be replicated online).

Definitely worth reading, I’ll link to Part 2 when he posts it.


This warms both sides of my heart, commerce and publishing, Vista’s Product Manager, David Block is quoted at C-NET

“Can we get a cool new PC in front of Oprah?…Can we do stuff like that? I think we can.”

They sure hope so, check out these sales projections, also quoted from the C-NET article

Microsoft says it expects more than 400 million PCs to be running Vista within 24 months of the launch. Block said the goal is to reach a rate within that time where more than half of the machines are running some premium version of the OS.

MS is planning to ship six versions of Vista. Six Vistas, I guess you’d say.

Wow, I hope it’s just confusing enough that everyone needs a book.

And maybe Oprah can help Microsoft clarify their message.