O'Reilly's German Svnbook and our efforts...

Ben Collins-Sussman sussman at red-bean.com
Sat May 30 20:06:17 CDT 2009

On Fri, May 22, 2009 at 6:53 AM, Karl Heinz Marbaise <khmarbaise at gmx.de> wrote:

> I think the German part of O'Reilly has not understand the basics of Open
> source and the basic idea of this kind of projects.

It's not just the German part of O'Reilly, it's all of O'Reilly.

O'Reilly produces excellent computer books, but ever since we
published the 1st edition of the book with them in 2005, I was shocked
to discover that they are a "conventional" book publishing company in
every way.  The editors who work there aren't any more technically
advanced than editors working on fiction books.

*  They use Microsoft Word, proprietary layout systems like
FrameMaker, and have *no* idea how to use version control themselves.

*  They tried to get us to assign 100% copyright to them, because
that's the norm in the book industry.  We instead had to persuade them
to modify the generic contract such that the authors held onto the
copyright, and to use the Creative Commons license.

*  They completely ignore the online edition of the book:  they
operate as if whatever text we send to them is the only copy of the
book in the world.  Even though we've explained that the website runs
in parallel (and is always more up-to-date), they still believe they
have the "master" fork of the book.  That's why they publish "errata"
on their website, and completely ignore our open source repository.

*  As with all of their books, they hire their own translators and
publish their own translations.  They are completely uninterested in
our opensource efforts.  We simply do not exist.

Really, the *only* thing that they do differently than a generic book
publisher is that their lawyers "tolerate" open source licenses on
books.   All their other processes are traditional and are exactly the
way publishers have been behaving for decades.

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