The Alpaca gets a second printing

Most tech books have trouble selling even a couple thousand copies, which makes it tough for a publisher to figure out how many to print at first. Print too many and they’ll just sit there, or worse. The publishing industry is a bitch because the book shops can returned unsold inventory and get money back. On every royalty statement, I have a “reserve withheld” and a “reserve returned”. The publisher reserves some of my royalty in case the book stores return books. After a certain period, they return that. But, they then withhold more. That’s just the way it is.

A second printing means that people are buying the book, enough so that the publisher will commit a bunch of money to create a couple of palettes of books that they’ll send to the distributor and that the distributor will send out to shops.

Before they do that, though, they give the authors a chance to fix small problems—typos and the like. Despite the number of people who look at the book before the first printing, things slip through the cracks. We can’t change major things in the book. That makes the second printing the .1 release, slightly better than the .0 release.

That means that one of the authors goes through all of the errata. André Philipp has done a tremendous job tracking down more problems than I thought a book could ever have, which makes it better for everyone else.

I don’t know when the second printing will actually show up. Even when it’s available, copies of the first printing may still be on the shelves waiting to be sold. You can tell which version you have by looking at the printing history on the data page.

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