On the Shelf


I love writing books that will be printed. I just don't do it any more.

Over the years I've had books published by O'Reilly, Pearson, The Pragmatic Programmers, Prentice Hall, Addison Wesley, Wiley, Wrox, and Hungry Minds. There may have been others.

I love book stores. I prefer strong local bookstores but it's hard to find them these days.

Combine those two things and I really love walking into a bookstore and seeing one of my books on the shelf. Not just mine. I love seeing books by people I know. If you're a friend of mine or you've written a book that I like, I'll take the book and leave it face out. If people see the cover instead of the spine, they're more likely to buy it.

I seldom ask authors to sign books for me. I'd rather spend a couple of minutes connecting to the author and shake his or her hand and tell them how much their book means to me. On the other hand, I love signing a book when someone asks me to. I wish we could do that for ebooks. (Come on Apple, you should be able to make that happen.)

When I was doing a lot of contract coding, Kim would remind me to bring in a copy of my latest book for my manager.

By now you know that Kim is way smarter than me. I thought it was a dumb idea but time after time when I would later visit the manager's office, my book would be on their desk. Co-workers would tell me that the manager had pointed to my book. I don't know what a book proves about what I do or don't know, but I know that my managers enjoyed being able to say "one of my people wrote that."

They can't do that with a digital book.

Despite these positive aspects of the printed book, a few years back I stopped writing books that will be printed.

There are advantages to that too.

Last week Apple had their event to show off the new iPhone 6s, the new Apple Watch bands, the new iPads and the new Apple TV. Later that day Apple released all of the GM versions of their software. This is the version of the developer tools and operating systems that will ship when everything goes public.

I started back through my book on Swift and checked every line of code to make sure everything still worked as I'd described. It did.

I went through the two dozen errata and had finished over the weekend. I pinged my top errata submitters to ask if they had anything else and they sent more in on Monday. I spent Tuesday morning addressing the last of them.

Here's the cool part.

If this were a print book we'd be 6 weeks or more from publication at this point. Some print on demand shops have reduced that time.

I submitted the book to Apple's iBookstore a little after noon and it was available for sale by dinner time. Here, take a look.

I love that. From my typewriter to on the shelf in half a day.