Idea: Package reference books in two formats

Subject: Idea: Package reference books in two formats
From: Stuart Burnfield <sburnf -at- au1 -dot- ibm -dot- com>
To: austechwriter -at- freelists -dot- org, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 14:41:33 +0800

Some recent list discussions about online versions of the Chicago Manual of
Style and AGPS Style Manual got me thinking about the difficulties of
keeping an up-to-date set of reference works. Contractors and people who
divide their time between home and an office either have to decide which
books to keep in each location, or pay for duplicate sets, or lug books
back and forth.

To a certain extent an online subscription (e.g. CMoS) solves the problem.
As long as you have an ID and password and a browser you can look up
answers to questions whereever you are. But browsing is not the same as
reading. Some of us just like the smell of books.

What would be perfect is if when I bought a reference book, it included a
subscription to the online service, perhaps with the option to renew the
subscription each year at a discount rate. I could keep the books wherever
I thought I'd use them most, but know that I can still get the answers to
urgent questions wherever I was, and I know the online information is

If money were no object we would just buy both formats, but if you have
several reference works to keep current with (AGPS Style Manual, CMoS,
Macquarie Dictionary, MS Manual of Style, Read Me First, ...) it gets

Would the publishers go along with this? Let's look at an example:

The new CMoS is $US 55. The online service is $US 25 for the first year
then $30 per year.

- If I just buy the book, the publisher gets $55 up front, then nothing.
- If I just buy the subscription then renew for four more years, they get
$145 spread over four years.
- If I could buy both as a package (say, $65 for the book plus first year,
then $20 to renew each year), the publisher gets roughly the same after the
fourth renewal, then if I keep subscribing after that they're ahead.

Make sense?



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