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• CommentRowNumber1.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 9th 2012

I had added to Practical Foundations a pointer to the accompanying Foundations of computable topology.

Any chance that somebody has an electronic copy of the Practical Foundations which he or she could borrow me for second?

• CommentRowNumber2.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 11th 2012

Have you looked at the online version? It’s very poor quality and misses a lot, but it might have what you’re looking for. (Also, if you’re reading Chapter 8, I have a slightly cleaned-up version that I could show you.)

• CommentRowNumber3.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 11th 2012

Yes, I did look at the online version. For the introduction it is okay, but when it comes to actual details it is pretty useless, because all the math is unreadable or not displayed at all.

If you have section 8 in readable form, I wouldn’t mind having a look…

• CommentRowNumber4.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 11th 2012

I’ll email you. But there is no content in my version that’s lacking in the online version; it’s just that what’s there is more legible.

• CommentRowNumber5.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 14th 2012

I was asking about the nonconfluted version repeatedly few times few months ago. Now I have the correct (read excellent) file version, but I am not sure if on this computer (I am for a month away from “my” other stations),

• CommentRowNumber6.
• CommentAuthorStephan A Spahn
• CommentTimeMay 15th 2012
• (edited May 15th 2012)

The causa of ”practical foundation of mathematics” led me to the question of where to purchase textbooks in electronic format. After looking around I found this one which has quite broad choice of standard references and it works by subscription (at a fair price) allowing arbitrary many downloads in the subscribed time span (1 month). However the layout of this site contains orthographical mistakes and I encountered a bug in the payment process and hence it provides no quality service.

So, are there any better choices I should know of?

• CommentRowNumber7.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 16th 2012
• (edited May 16th 2012)

6: bookseller link you quote does not work for me.

The fair price is discussable notion. I mainly use electronically the same books which I have hold off in print format. These are books I know well so I can navigate in electronic format as well. Now I own say Whitehead’s Elements of homotopy theory which I bought from Springer about 10-15 years ago. I travel very often and can not carry my Whitehead with me. The authors is long since died, the book is written long time ago, I paid for the book. So after everybody got his reward for producing the book, and after I paid my deal, why I would not be allowed to carry a file with me when travelling for free ? It is like change of technology with music. My parents bought the vinyl record for which I again bought a tape for tape recorder, and then I again had to buy a CD with the same perfomer. What did the performer do ? We, scientists, created technology advancement for pennies, and the guy takes advantage requiring us to buy again the same product and pay the same author right whenever the technology makes a leap.

• CommentRowNumber8.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 16th 2012

In the United States (which I believe has pretty restrictive copyright laws, relative to most other countries), you can transfer data to another format for personal use. You can even keep the original (or any copy) as a backup in case you lose the new one. (But if you transfer from vinyl to tape and then to CD, I believe that you’re supposed to destroy the tape.) I believe that you can even pay somebody to transfer with high quality (but a CD taken from vinyl will never be as good quality as an official CD made from the master recording).

So you can buy a hand scanner, scan your book, and take it with you, legal in the United States and so probably most of the world, as long as you don’t copy the files and distribute them to others, and as long as the original is kept only as a backup and not for independent use.

• CommentRowNumber9.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 17th 2012

Amazing! I did not know that. We should document this with sources.

• CommentRowNumber10.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 17th 2012
• (edited May 17th 2012)

I may be wrong; the legislation on backups is explicitly for computer programs (for anybody) and public libraries (for anything). On the other hand, copies for personal use (when you only use one copy at a time) seem to be covered under ‘fair use’. On the other other hand, fair use is (besides being extremely ill defined in the legislation) one of the few areas where the U.S. is sometimes more generous than other parts of the world.

• CommentRowNumber11.
• CommentAuthorStephan A Spahn
• CommentTimeMay 18th 2012
• (edited May 18th 2012)

6: bookseller link you quote does not work for me.

maybe you have to copy it by hand from the source; for me it’ s clickable.

The fair price is discussable notion.

I wrote ”fair price” mainly in relation to the benefits I have from this service. But I think the art of the correct pricing of digital contents is still in its infancy and I have not yet a feeling for it.

Apparently there are now tendencies rising to speak in this discussion on a political level.

• CommentRowNumber12.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 18th 2012
• (edited May 18th 2012)

• CommentRowNumber13.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 19th 2012

Zoran,

not that I think we necessarily need to discuss it, but your examples seem to be rather independent from what Stephan was alluding to, which was the question of whether authors (or musicians or…) get a fair price for their material being distributed online. (And the question might continue: or whether only companies like Google make a heck of a profit by (indirectly) distributing other people’s content for free, with ads next to it.)

• CommentRowNumber14.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 19th 2012
• (edited May 19th 2012)

I think Stephan explained that he meant if it is fair price for him as a USER of the service. And I went into a digression also from the position as a user. My “why not” is answering to the concern that there are tendencies for USERs to be political in discussing what is fair, and I think they should be, as the very current pricing and copyright/lending system did come largely from the political power and abuse. Most lenders online earn some money from advertising and then pay fees to author agencies. This neglects the fact that many authors and publishing companies, specially those out of US and Europe are not networked into those agencies, some companies broke and the contact with authors is lost, so all the money gets to those authors who are networked while those companies and authors benefit from other authors who are not networked. Are googleBooks paying a fee from their advertising to the Soviet taxpayers who were subsiding books from soviet era which are massively present there, for example ? No, Addison-Wesley gets bigger share of the cake regarding that Brezhnev is in the grave.

• CommentRowNumber15.
• CommentAuthorPaul Taylor
• CommentTimeMay 20th 2012
There is (I hope) no electronic version of Practical Foundations of Mathematics. The one on my website was created as Google-fodder, so that if people look up terms from category theory they will see my book and go out and buy a copy. When I see the logs for downloads of Proofs and Types I rue the day that I put it there, after the commercially foolish decision of Cambridge University Press to let it go out of print. At some point in the future I will make a second edition of Practical Foundations and send it to a print-on-demand publisher in order to get some revenue from the seven years' work that went into it.
• CommentRowNumber16.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 21st 2012

Paul: There is, I found it somewhere.

1. If I think it over I better retract from the formulation of ”fair price” since this term indicates the consideration of not only the user’ s perspective which I solely spoke of. Of course I did not mean to rate the work of authoring a book but only the service of providing availability of the yet written contents.

@Zoran: Yes I think you are right in that even the user’s perspective naturally is a political one since -particularly in the question of digtal contents- one single unchanged product might have massively many buyers in whose interest it is not to place authors at a disadvantage.

@Paul Taylor: Yes, there is an electronic version of Practical Foundations. I bought it from the link I posted above. But if you don’t know about this seller there seems to be something wrong in regard to its copyright…

• CommentRowNumber18.
• CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
• CommentTimeMay 21st 2012

Hmm, yes I found it in minutes (I’m not downloading it). The seller lists the correct publisher, but I strongly doubt they pay for the privilege of hosting an electronic copy.

• CommentRowNumber19.
• CommentAuthorPaul Taylor
• CommentTimeMay 21st 2012
There is, as I said, no legal electronic copy. I turned down CUP's offer to host one.

I have told them the results of my own Google search for illegal copies and am waiting to see whether their lawyers do anything about it.

If you think you are striking some blow for academic freedom by obtaining your copies from such sources, please note that this book took me seven years to write and is a major factor contributing to the fact that I am now unemployed.

I would also point out that CUP is a wholly owned subsidiary of a university, so any profits that it makes go back into the academic system, unlike with Springer, Elsevier, etc.
• CommentRowNumber20.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 21st 2012
• (edited May 21st 2012)

Dear Paul Taylor,

I, for one, am happy to pay. But what I can’t use is a stack of printed paper being shipped to me. I want a pdf! :-)

If you give me some account information, PayPal or otherwise, I’ll be happy to transfer payment to you.

• CommentRowNumber21.
• CommentAuthorPaul Taylor
• CommentTimeMay 21st 2012
what I can't use is a stack of printed paper

You mean a "book", or what was originally known as a Codex when it was invented at the end of the first century?

The thing that I created in 1993-9 was a book. I went to a Book Design course at the then London College of Printing. When the final result appeared, I was surprised how much nicer it looked than the mock-ups with which I had been working. I like books. They're nice to handle. They conform to the traditional notion of "property".

If you would like me to create a PDF instead then you could talk to me and try to persuade me. Maybe I will agree. Maybe I won't.

Contacting me directly would be nice, instead of waiting for me to stumble on this page. In fact, I discovered the discussion on type theory in my web logs. I was going to reply to some of the intellectual points there when I saw this page.

But if I don't agree, that doesn't mean that someone else can do it instead. It certainly doesn't mean that they can charge money for it. At least, not until 70 years after I'm dead.
• CommentRowNumber22.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 21st 2012

• CommentRowNumber23.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 21st 2012

@Toby 22, I feel like you are using the phrase “academic freedom” differently to how I learned it. It doesn’t just mean making academics more free to do what they want to; it refers to the freedom of academics to study controversial subjects free of repression. I don’t see how the availability of PDF copies of academic papers or payment for authors has anything to do with that.

• CommentRowNumber24.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

Paul, I’m interested to know what you think about the following. I bought a copy of your book not long after it came out. I still have it. Would it bother you if I downloaded the (presumably scanned) version available on the web?

• CommentRowNumber25.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

If you would like me to create a PDF

There is no need for that. I just want to transfer payment. I’ll contact you by email.

• CommentRowNumber26.
• CommentAuthorPaul Taylor
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012
To within ε you all know me personally. Why are you advocating that it is ok for strangers to steal my property?

If you buy something from the back of a bloke's car behind a pub, you know perfectly well that there is a high probability that it has been stolen.

This is not so obvious from a website, since they are so easy to set up.

I suggest that you read the "Terms and Conditions" of the site that offers ebooks "at a fair price" very carefully. Does it own the things that is selling? Does it even have them, or is it a case of "I know bloke who can get that for you"? Do you think that it is paying any of the money that you give it to the creators or even the copyright holders? Where is its head office? (Hint: use a whois site like this to look it up.) Does whoever wrote the "Terms and Conditions" know anything about (say, EU) consumer protection legislation?

I have written to Urs declining his payment and giving him the original PS for Chapter VIII.
• CommentRowNumber27.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012
• (edited May 22nd 2012)

Paul, you talk to intellectuals who bought in their life several thousand books each and hence gave a huge contribution to author community. When I was a student I used to buy about 15 books per week (this was some sort of therapy, as buying books was making me happy). In my case, they were mainly in Russian, as those were cheaper as they were highly subsidized by Russian government (US people would say taxpayers). You also talk to people who give months of their time to create and distribute their own writing to the community for free, look at 6500 articles in $n$Lab and our works at arXiv and eslewhere. Now you say, you do not like to sell something in electronic format because you like some Roman book format. That is very sympathetic, I do side with a special appeal of the books. Similarly to you, when we were dedicating our time to community, refereeing, advising students, writing $n$Lab, some of us also lost academic positions and have no stable income any more.

The book publishers pay something of the order 5-10 dollars per sold book to the author. You could earn much better if you were selling file double that price; the publishers sell paper copies for order of 100 dollars and the electronic versions are rarely cheaper: what does not benefit the author. It is a matter of electronic copying that it is virtually no-cost neither for author nor for performer: so the price should be about the order of author rights and not on the order of printed copy which involves far higher costs and technology. A colleague of mine who wrote a monograph closer to my area, told me about some former site distributing files and said in delightment about his finding “They have even my book. Surely, it would be impossible to prevent this. When I think of it, I would even post it myself. Indeed, I earned only 3000 dollars from it, and spend a couple of years on it, while I get the same money from teaching only about 20 lectures at the university, what is negligible work.” In other words, if somebody wants to earn from writing books, it is better to write say cookbooks. They are easy to write and sell in tens or hundreds of thousands of copies, and do not get obsolete. This is sad, but it is the reality. For this reason many institutions sponsor people writing books. Like Clay Math Institute sponsors sometimes people just to spend time writing a major innovative monograph. There are some competitions, like one in Barcelona where the main price for just writing a book is 6 or 12 thousand euro, and you still keep the author rights, though the book is than addressed to be published with Birkhauser. Croatian taxpayers pay for support for science books, via grants given by government book support agency. This alleviates some costs from the publisher. On the other hand if you are just an art translator or writer of beletristics you can get a status of free writer, there are about 1850 people with this status in Croatia. They have the medical insurance, pension plan and about 2/3 of minimal salary as long as they keep this status what is based on their minimal annual writing quantity (alas not quality). So even if they get relatively low income from publishers, they are well off with this support. I am discussing this issue publicly for several years trying to get some awareness that scientific writers may deserve the same status with a bit different criteria for status. What they do is also a dedication for public good so basic social care of productive writers in scientific area should be awarded by the community.

I myself plan (and started) writing some books. I expect reward in mixed sense. Students have easier time with my courses if I can address them to something what fits my way of doing courses (as an adjunct faculty I teach part time at the university with third of full teaching load for amount which is only about one monthly assistant professor salary per year). I may get some support if I send some work to a competition like the one in Catalonia. I will learn something when writing this. I may get something via author rights. Finally I will be happy that I have given something to the community which has supported many of my conference trips, guest positions etc. trusting my research proposals and value claimed in those. All together, book is not much of money earning investment in most scenarios. When I had a real job and was starting some book, the boss of the department told me openly that I was not paid for the book writing, but for research and that getting astray with it will only lower my chances to keep the job. He never wrote a book and retired by now, and never had a gap in job.

• CommentRowNumber28.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012
• (edited May 22nd 2012)

It is strange semantics that you call copying a file stealing. Stealing is when somebody takes something from you so that you loose it in a process. Copying does not remove anything from you. Surely, I agree that authors should be awarded and that users should give away something to help that cause. This should be based of fairness and cooperation: and as I see you did not answer to Tom weather he, who has bought your book, is allowed to use it in a convenient form of a computer file; it seems you are so bitter about your unhappy fate (and some of us share it) that you do not like that kind of cooperation on reasonable terms. Also somebody acquiring a file should praise the authors and award him/her on the basis of how USEFUL the book was. If it was a cheat with nice cover and no content better give a penny than 100 bucks. If it was a revelation, one should give a true reward. There are levels from a trial use, where person downloads a file and sees it is not what one wanted to have. Like those books which have “MODERN” algebra in title and you usually see that it is at least 50 years obsolete, as usually ignorant people dare to be so bombastic.

I downloaded your file somewhere and never read half a page so far. Then I lost it, and prompted by this discussion found it online again. If I do find it useful, unlike Urs, I like printed versions, I may order the printed version and/or ask some of my collaborators in Zagreb to order it from a grant. Knowing that you are without a job, the level of interest required to choose it for yearly book ordering in December gets lower to your benefit. If I see that the file is interesting, it also increases your chances that the book is bought one or few times by my initiative in the research circle I belong.

Jacob Lurie put his HTT book online both in preprint and published version. I had the file since it appeared. But it is big and I never really found it browsable. Once i saw it in a bookstore in a bit more compact form, physically, I liked it and immediately bought it. Not despite having file, but even more because of it. Knowing the book in printed version makes me navigate better in file version and other way around. Then, the closest collaborator of mine did the same, and finally my oldest student done the same. All of us had the file of book of Lurie for years and all the three of us bought the book. The money one is willing to pay depends on how useful something is. Urs likes files, I like both books and files. Sometimes I borrow a book from the library or download the file just to forget about it in few minutes. Sometimes such a book (like Lurie’s HTT), which is found useful to me, stays next to my bed for ages. I never regret to order next copy and give it as a present to my next student, or to pay a beer to the author if I will have again an honour to meet him.

There are so many ways to exchange and support the value and sacrifice. For example, helping giving an extensions to positions at the publicly funding institutions to those who sacrifices their time to writing and lost some point in research or some other component of their work. Establishing book grants. Paying proportionally to the use. Helping writing themselves. Making savings in book production. Disillusioning young writers in their earning expectations and making them aware of the entire picture. One can help so many ways and the market and lawyers office are far from the best arena, though they should not be neglected. It is not about a law and 25 or 75 years restrictions depending on country, it is about wider understanding of needs and fairness in our community. If authors and readers better understand it there are hundreds of places one can honour it.

• CommentRowNumber29.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012
• (edited May 22nd 2012)

Finally, I should say that the sites which charge for the pirated material for the sake of their own profit and do not give a fraction to the authors are out of scope of any excuse. One thing is to copy for ideals which may disagree with Paul’s and another is to copy for the earnings, the latter is definitely a stealing and should not be supported neither by authors nor by users. Stealing what: the defendable position and in the market; while ownership of things versus copies is not an equality at the personal level; the position in the market is definitely not a thing which can be copied – the space in the market is rather limited. By profit here I do not count sites accepting voluntary contributions helping just the running costs.

I have split my previous entry into 27 and 28 as the text passed the limit allowed by $n$Forum. It is strange that the limit is so low that a single typed replica without any special symbols or formulas is bigger than that.

• CommentRowNumber30.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012
• (edited May 22nd 2012)

I should also mention the example of Hatcher’s Algebraic topology book. It is free on his website since invention what is often the reason why many teachers of algebraic topology courses choose it as a textbook. And in last ten years, it became a standard for a graduate course around the world. A fraction of students likes to buy the hard copy so the very fact that it is popular makes it very highly selling. Lurie’s HTT is popular mainly because of its revolutionary role in mathematics and secondary for its availability (including existence of paperback version)., Hatcher’s book is good, but it is not really the best textbook in the subject, and I daresay that its immense popularity is more due its availability than its number one place in quality (of course the quality is pretty good, but not number one). By giving away the copy, Hatcher made it more famous and as a result is getting more from author rights.

Of course, it is up to the author to decide weather to follow Hatcher’s example. Or to follow or not May’s example, who is putting all his old books on his web page, but not the newest – the second vol. of the concise course, which is popular partly due the first vol. which is online. But when the book does not sell like Hatcher’s book one should be aware what could be the cause. One should also count that much of the earnings from advanced math monographs is from math libraries around the world, who do not pirate ever and whose choice of the books depends on who is ordering, and that one is typically a faculty who is aware of the popularity of the book (and/or of the author).

• CommentRowNumber31.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

@ Paul #26: This may just be a technicality, depending on one’s other values, but intellectual property infringement is not stealing. It is more akin to trespassing than to theft, although technically it is neither.

If I own a copyright, patent, or similar title, then I have the legal right to forbid certain otherwise legal activity by you. We pretend (although this is not exactly true) that I own the relevant ideas (hence the term ‘intellectual property’). If you engage in this activity anyway, then you infringe on my rights; you use my ideas (which we pretend that I own) in violation of my legal rights. However, I still own the property as much as ever; you have stolen nothing. (Technically, you haven’t trespassed either, since I don’t really own the ideas, but you’ve infringed certain rights of exclusive use of those ideas in a similar way.)

This is a legal fact, regardless of one’s opinions on the merits of the laws on intellectual property.

• CommentRowNumber32.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

By the way, I do hope to order a copy of PFM, which is one of the books that I most miss from regularly visiting a university library, when I have some disposable income again. Having a readable version online would make me less likely to do this, although I would probably do it anyway.

I do not intend to give money to a shady site to provide me with a scan, and I thank Paul Taylor for pointing out why the site linked in #6 above is shady (although I guessed that anyway).

• CommentRowNumber33.
• CommentAuthorFinnLawler
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

I for one agree whole-heartedly with Zoran’s #28. Paul, with the greatest of respect, nothing is being stolen from you. Of course it is wrong for this website to charge money for unauthorised electronic copies of your book, but if anything it is the downloader’s money that is being stolen, because of the website’s misrepresentation. You have not been deprived of possession of anything. (You may believe that, as the record companies like to claim, every illegal download is a lost sale, but that has been shown time and again to be false.)

Like Zoran, I prefer paper books, or codices if you like, to electronic files, but before I buy one I want to know what I’m getting. Nowadays I never buy a textbook or monograph without taking a careful look at an electronic copy, often illegally. I do not regard this as theft, or even as morally or professionally wrong in any way. If I find a book useful or interesting, I will buy a copy to support the author if I can afford it, and I don’t think the author could ask anything more; indeed, as Zoran says, having access to an electronic copy of a book makes it far more likely that I will buy a hard copy.

You could easily turn this situation to your advantage: the contents of the book on your site are well indexed by Google, so all you need do is host a downloadable copy (even a fairly low-quality scan would do), saying something like ‘If you find this book useful, please buy a paper copy or donate to support the author’, with links to Amazon and PayPal, or something along those lines. That would redirect most of the traffic from the dodgy sites to yours, and you would most likely lose nothing by doing it.

• CommentRowNumber34.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

I agree that making books and other academic written work available online is an important service to the academic community, which is currently struggling to free itself from the grip of parasitic publishers (which does not, of course, include university presses). I also agree that it’s probably not a good idea to expect substantial income from writing a math book. And making work freely available is a much better way to disseminate the ideas (which is the main benefit that I think most academics expect from their work), and might even increase sales of physical copies. My experience with HTT was the same as Zoran’s.

None of that, however, makes it legal to distribute pirated electronic copies when the author has chosen not to make their work available in such a way.

That said, if I were to buy a copy of PFM, I would be unlikely to shell out $160 for a new one, and instead pay$80 for a used one, thereby producing no royalty income for Paul. Even $80 seems pretty steep for me, and I have to wonder how much of that$160 gets back to the author. Nowadays, self-publishing at a place like lulu seems to me to be an attractive alternative for academic authors, and likely to result in lower prices and hence more individual purchasers.

• CommentRowNumber35.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

Paul has expressed interested in republishing PFM by print-on-demand (in comment #15 above, and earlier to me in email), which would also be a blow for academic freedom (in the sense of my #22). So whatever we think about the morality and professional ethics of illegal copying, is there anything that we can do to support this?

• CommentRowNumber36.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012
• (edited May 22nd 2012)

None of that, however, makes it legal to distribute pirated electronic copies when the author has chosen not to make their work available in such a way.

Just one a point to maybe think about:

a few days after my request in #1 I asked a colleague in person if he could borrow me his copy of PFM for a moment. He did, I looked at it, spent 20 minutes with the book, handed it back and made a note about the point I was after on the $n$Lab.

That was not illegal, was it.

Should it then really be illegal had my eyes instead touched an electronic version of the same text?

I am willing to pay. But insisting that I don’t read my inbox and instead wait for a stack of printed paper to be shipped across Europe is not sensible. And I don’t think it’s really in anyone’s interest either, except maybe of the company who makes money with shipping printed paper around the globe in an age where every kid owns a laser printer.

• CommentRowNumber37.
• CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
• CommentTimeMay 22nd 2012

If I may point out a relevant data point, recall that Ronnie Brown has made his textbook Topology and Groupoids available for sale as both print on demand and electronic versions. I think it would be good to hear his experience with the success (or otherwise!) of this approach.

• CommentRowNumber38.
• CommentAuthorFinnLawler
• CommentTimeMay 23rd 2012

@David: I was just looking into that. T&G is printed on demand by Booksurge, which is owned by Amazon. Apparently they are not well-loved: see here (and the comments) for an example. My copy of T&G was badly printed, with the text offset too far down the pages; readable, but ugly.

The only other print-on-demand publisher I know of is Lightning Source, whom I got my Cats Work and Sheaves in Geometry and Logic from, again via Amazon. They also had printing errors, though not as serious as with T&G: too-faint symbols on some pages, a couple of smeared lines here and there. Again, not unuseable, but still probably better avoided.

A quick Google turns up a crowd called Abramis, who claim to specialise in academic books. Their catalogue isn’t very big, and there’s a fair bit of what looks like physics crankery in the Science & Technology section, but they might be worth a look.

• CommentRowNumber39.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeMay 23rd 2012
• (edited May 23rd 2012)

Cambridge University Press do print on demand. For example, I bought a copy of Adamek and Rosicky a couple of years ago, and I was told that it would take a week or two to arrive as it was being printed for me.

Maybe CUP do it for some books and not others. Adamek and Rosicky’s book is in a different series from Taylor’s. The fact that Taylor’s is much bigger might make a difference: it might have to be bound differently.

• CommentRowNumber40.
• CommentAuthorZhen Lin
• CommentTimeMay 23rd 2012

@38: My copy of Sheaves in geometry and logic is “Printed in Great Britain by Amazon.co.uk, Marston Gate”. It has some warped text – presumably due to bad scanning rather than bad printing. Personally I find it strange that Springer do not take it upon themselves to print the book properly… but then again, my copies of Hartshorne and Mac Lane suffer from crisp yet very faint print, and I think those weren’t print-on-demand.

• CommentRowNumber41.
• CommentAuthorFinnLawler
• CommentTimeMay 23rd 2012

Yes, quite possibly.

Springer do not take it upon themselves to print the book properly

My copy of Spivak’s Calculus (CUP) has printing errors too, including missing ’fi’ and ’ffi’ ligatures on the back cover. I suppose the lesson is that even the imprimatur of a reputable publisher is no guarantee of printing quality.

• CommentRowNumber42.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 30th 2012
• (edited May 30th 2012)

Wikipedia: Amazon_Kindle#Kindle_Direct_Publishing

In a December 5, 2009 interview with The New York Times, CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that Amazon.com keeps 65% of the revenue from all ebook sales for the Kindle.[99] The remaining 35% is split between the book author and publisher. After numerous commentators observed that Apple’s popular App Store offers 70% of royalties to the publisher, Amazon began a program that offers 70% royalties to Kindle publishers who agree to certain conditions.

Regarding that most amazon titles are 9.9 dollars in the version for Kindle, this gives 1.75 dollars per book sale for author rights sold via Amazon. Disappointingly little. However,

Due to the book publisher’s DRM policies, Amazon claims that there is no right of first sale with e-books. Amazon states they are licensed, not purchased; so unlike paper books, buyers do not actually own their e-books according to Amazon. This has however never been tested in the courts and the outcome of any action by Amazon is by no means certain. The law is in a state of flux in jurisdictions around the world.

• CommentRowNumber43.
• CommentAuthorronniegpd
• CommentTimeJun 20th 2012
David Roberts asked me to comment on my experience:

My book "Topology and Groupoids" was published by Booksurge, based on the advice of the e-book "The Fine Print", written by a copyright lawyer, Mark Levine. (This book is best on USA publishers, but is very good on things to avoid.)

The second revised printing went badly because my pdf file started after the prelims on the wrong page. So this had to be revised. (They did notify me of a problem, but were not specific.)

Booksurge has become Createspace, and the efficiency has improved. The royalty rates are good: a 9"x 6" 200 page, black and white, priced at 20 dollars gives a royalty of 8.65 dollars (check with their royalty calculator). These are paid monthly of over 25 dollars, and they give weekly email sales reports. The web site gives authors a good view of back sales, and allows a good description on amazon.

Also I had to advise them that there should be a rule on the front cover to allow easy folding. I would prefer a stronger cover.

I have just read of the tactics of amazon towards other POD publishers, which are a shame as all sources of good academic publishing should be welcomed. The problem is: if one can't beat them, should one join them?

Because of the non exclusive contract, I have done my own unprotected e-version, sold at £5 through kagi. Not surprisingly, there are pirate versions available, but one aim is to have the book read. (Booksurge did a lousy job of an e-version, so I gave that up.)

Maybe Paul Taylor with his good training should approach createspace to start a series of POD academic math texts which have a refereeing process and so more immediate academic credibility, and also a publicity circulation to academic departments.

I am satisfied that my book is readily available at a reasonable price, (its minimum price was 21.99 dollars, which I eventually pushed up to 31.99 dollars or so: even if it is sold on amazon for less, I still get the royalty on that price for an amazon sale) and hope it will have its influence. I did feel that the new book on "Nonabelian algebraic topology" should go through an established publisher, to vet its credentials; the EMS publish it a sensible price considering the size, and allow a full pdf on my web site.

I just checked and total sales of T&G have been 406. Recent mentions on mathoverflow and mathstackexchange have been helpful. Would say CUP have done better in sales and/or royalties? (They beef about the 40% cut for any amazon sale.)

Ronnie