O'Reilly Rough Cuts

Safari Books Online just launched a new service that gives you access to books before they're released. It's called Rough Cuts—here's a press release: Safari Books Online Launches New Rough Cuts Service. Flickr Hacks is one of the first books offered through Rough Cuts. We're not finished with the last round of editing yet, but you can get access to the full text of the book as it is now for $12.99 if you'd like: Flickr Hacks Rough Cuts. (You can pay $27.99 if you want the hard copy in addition to the online version once it's printed in a month or so. The printed book alone will be around $16.99.)

One of the most frustrating aspects of working on print books for me is the lag time between writing something and getting it out to an audience. The applications I'm writing about change quickly, so it's critical to get information out quickly. The editorial and review process is fantastic, and I love tightening text and tuning code. But it's frustrating watching your work expire while the book is in process because an application has changed. I think Rough Cuts will be a way to shorten the cycle. I also think it'll be great to get feedback from early adopters of the books so O'Reilly can tweak things before printing. Every book has errata, and with more people consuming books before they're out the door, hopefully more of that errata can be eliminated before the book is printed. (With enough eyeballs, all errata is shallow?)

So yeah, I'm excited about this new service—especially because Flickr Hacks is one of the inaugural titles. The author side of me is a bit nervous about letting people in early, but it's natural to the Web developer side of me. A few days ago I read through the entire book again as part of the editorial process and really enjoyed it. I know I'm biased, but I'm also proud of the book. (And let's face it, Flickr is fun!) And now you can read an early version too.

Update: For insights into the economics of publishing, check out Tim O'Reilly's take on Rough Cuts: The Long Snout.

Update (1/30): The Rough Cuts version of Flickr Hacks now has color figures. Check out Jim's Squared Circle mosaic in the Flickr Hacks Preface.