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Subject:Re: PDF v paper From:Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 16 Dec 1998 09:28:57 -0800
David Thompson wrote:
> Why is there a need for paper doc. to be shipped with a software product?
> For example: I write the doc. in Word, I convert it to PDF and put it on a
> CD. The final user can then view the doc. or print the doc. if need be.
> Production costs are reduced. No printing and lighter packages to ship.
> Am I over simplifying the situation?
Because the companies who tried shipping no manual with the software got their
considerable behinds fried by irate customers. The first to try that tactic
was Novell, who thought they were being oh-so-cost-effective by putting the
docs on a CD and telling their customers to print their own copies. What
Novell discovered (the hard way) was (a) most customers want a printed copy of
the docs, even if they never open them, and (b) printed docs legitimize
Note that I'm not saying that USERS prefer printed docs - I deliberately said
CUSTOMERS. Here's why:
There is a distinction between the people who buy the software - or who
recommend that their company buy the software - and those who actually use it.
Most "buy" decisions are not made by the folks who have to go out into the
field with the software, or who actually use it; the actual decision is made,
more often than not and particularly if the package cost exceeds $10,000, by
managers or directors. Those types of people are more concerned with issues
like company stability and reputation than the line folks, and that's where
printed docs make a difference. For some reason - and we could speculate
endlessly why that is - a nicely printed set of docs connotes a company's
concern about its image, which gets translated into positive mental images
about the company's stability.
Let me give you a parallel: one of the things that really enhances the
marketing image of a new piece of consumer software is a third-party book about
it. The manuals may be highly readable and very useful, but if there are a
couple of third-party books about the software as well, customers tend to
believe that the software is going to be around for a while, and that it is
likely to have the services that go along with well-supported software.
So to sum up, yes, PDF is a more cost-effective way of releasing manuals, but
there are plenty of marketing reasons why the manuals have to be on paper as