8.08.2008

Free baby, but not open source

So, someone shared a link with me for Richard Laermer's new book, 2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade. It mentioned that McGraw-Hill was offering a free copy of the e-book. Intrigued, I went to freebabyfree and found this posted on the site:
Just fill in the form below and you'll get a link to the e-book. The whole book. Not excerpts. There are 77 chapters ~ bound to be something you love~!~

No tricks, no gimmicks, no spam. In 2008, this is the way to publish a groundbreaking book about the future.

Fill in below. We are being as open-source as possible here. Oh and to buy this book as a hardback then log on to Laermer.com.

In order to gain access to the book, you need to provide an e-mail address and they will send you the link to access the book (not necessarily a trick, but why aren't you just providing online access to the thing directly? Why do you need my e-mail address?), so I did so, I got the link e-mailed to me and. . . . the experience was horrible. Why?

Let me count the ways:
  1. I have limited access to the book. Sure I can read the whole book- as long as I do it in a week in their format. (I would define this as a trick).
  2. I need to read the book on the site so I'm stuck reading it on my computer screen thanks to the hosting by zmags.
  3. The page layout make the book unreadable unless you zoom in.
  4. The zoom is so sensitive as to make you feel sick.
  5. The scroll wheel is used to zoom in and out and it's always active. In other words, you can't use a scroll wheel to scroll down a page.
  6. I feel duped because some marketeer misused the term open source to describe the material (Open source means you're giving everyone access to the material in a format that is open for them to manipulate. You want to offer this material locked down in a specific format, fine, it's a valid method of providing access, but don't call it open source).

Did anyone do any usability on this e-book to see what the actual experience of reading it?

I would like to ask Cory Doctorow, Suze Orman, Charles Bock and the various groups working on the epub standard if this is indeed "the way to publish a groundbreaking book about the future" because I certainly thought the rest of the world was getting rid of DRM and freely sharing content with others.

If you want an example of a publishing company really publishing for today, check out Joe Wikert's entry on Thomas Nelson.

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Anonymous Leanna said...

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10:01 PM  

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