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RE: [Axiom-developer] Lulu publishing

From: Page, Bill
Subject: RE: [Axiom-developer] Lulu publishing
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 04:53:37 -0500


Thanks for your comments. Although I (mostly) express the
opposite view below, I think it is important that we
consider this from all sides.

Overall I am inclined to think that producing CD's either
separately or as part of a book package is probably not
currently worth the effort.

On December 7, 2004 4:16 AM Martin Rubey wrote:
>> We were also hoping to include a CDrom with volume 1, but 
>> we received a quotation from Lulu which calls for a minimum
>> publishing run of 100 copies ...
> I don't think that this is worth it. If possible, I'd follow 
> the suggestions already given: 
> * include a possibility of ordering a CD in the book and, 
> more importantly,
> * make it very easy to order a CD from the website.

Who will actually ship these orders? Who will make the copies
of the CD? If we get 10 orders, ok no problem. But if there
were 100's or more, then that requires someone who commits to
doing this task in a reliable and timely manner.
> I think that the CD will mostly serve people with a bad 
> internet connection, and I'm afraid that this is the case
> in some countries which may become very important for Axiom:
> Russia, for example, many countries in Africa and probably
> in South-America. Therefore I'd also suggest that both book 
> and CD should cost almost nothing. 

In my experience that is not true. Most of the people I have
met in the countries you mention are quite used to downloading
software or obtaining copies from other sources. They are quite
used to not having easy access to boxed sofware from foriegn
sources. There are many complications like simply trying to
get something through customs brokers etc. But for (most) of
them, the Internet download is the fast track.

In my opinion CD's best serve those people who required some
tangible piece of hardware or physical book when then place
an order through a conventional institution (like a book
store). It is possible these days to download Maple and
Mathematica over the web and then pay via credit card to
receive a license that allows one to use the program after
the trial period expires. But as far as I know most people
and universitys still prefer to order and receive a boxed
set of CD's complete with a user's guide and other
> I believe that it would be quite possible to tell the
> people: pay as much as you want to, but at least bla$,
> where bla$ is the actual cost.

Yes, but it does complicate the institutional bookkeeping. :)
> The point I'm trying to make: maybe it would be wiser *not* 
> to try to make any money with the book, but rather try to
> make it as accessible as possible. I suspect that this is
> the reason for the predominance of MS Windows, in fact.

Could you explain that? MS Windows is almost always sold as
a boxed set and Microsoft certainly intends that it make money
through sales.

I don't think that setting a reasonable price on something
necessarily makes it less accessible. Afterall, everything
that is available at some set price in a boxed set of CD's
or a hardcopy book is also and always (by nature of the
BSD license) also available for free online. Really what
people are paying for is the package (and the privilege of
directly supporting the development through sales). This
is (more or less) the strategy that has been pursued by most
linux vendors such as RedHat and Suse.

> I don't know if this is feasible. Is it possible to
> collect orders on the Axiom website and then forward
> them to Lulu?

Yes, that is possible. In fact it is encouraged by Lulu
since they provide several ways to interface to their
ordering system.

But if you are thinking about ordering CD's from Lulu
separately from a book, I am not so sure that Lulu provides
such a service. And if they did, I expect that there would
still be a requirement for a minimum production run. Perhaps
there is another company that is prepared to ship CD's in
smaller runs? But the cost, I expect is almost all in the
production, handling and shiping of the CD's. The only way
to do this at a lower cost is at some minimum level of mass

Bill Page.

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