Thursday, September 01, 2011

Adobe Press eBook's

Each week Adobe Press offers a $9.99 eBook deal of the week. This week it's Adobe After Effects CS5 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques by Mark Christiansen, which currently sells for $37.79 on Amazon, or $26.39 as a Kindle book: Adobe After Effects CS5 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques.

I've been curious about buying and using a text book electronically. I've bought fiction and read it on my iPad, but I haven't bought and used a book like this. And since I've been wanting to get a little more acquainted with After Effects, and the price was right, I decided to jump in and try it...

To get the deal, you go to the deal page and the click on the buy link: eBook Deal of the Week. You then have to create an account and enter payment information.

The deal of the day page

Once you create an account, you get sent a link to the book that appears on your Adobe Press account page. Clicking the link downloads the PDF that has been customized for you (it has your name on every page.) The book will be available in 5 to 10 minutes according to the FAQ page, though I found mine was available in about two minutes (your name appears on every page.)

The link for downloading the book is active for 7 days, but they will regenerate it for you at a later date, provided the book is still in print.(your name appears on every page.) Did I mention that your name appears on every page?! Well it does!

That the book is "regenerated" if you try and download it at a later date is an important detail because their FAQ says that if a product ever goes out of print, we are obligated (by contract) to stop vending it. So in those cases you will not be able to refresh your file. But since the PDF file has no DRM, and the terms allow you to keep six copies of the file, this is not so much a problem as a minor annoyance.

Book download page

Apart from the watermark - your name on each page - the downloaded file is a regular PDF. I was able to view it in Preview on my Mac just fine.

The PDF in the Macintosh Preview app

I also moved it over to my iPad (using the GoodReader PDF app to view it.) I didn't try it on the iPhone, though I'm sure it would work. I just suspect it would be a lot of effort to read through the book on my iPhone's screen, though it might be useful for a quick review of something.

Using iTunes to make the PDF available to GoodReader

It's interesting to read a book like this on the iPad and in the Preview app on my MacBook. It's mildly curious to watch the pages go from left orientation to right orientation as you scroll through the pages. It's apparent that traditional books really should be reformatted for electronic distribution. Electronic books have been available for how long now - and no one has solved this problem? I guess it's useful if you decide to print your book from the PDF file - an option that is available - though it seems to defeat the point a bit.

On my MacBook, the 100% view doesn't show the whole page, but the text is easy to read, and I'd probably leave it at about that size. On the iPad in vertical orientation (when you can see the whole page) I find the text too small to comfortably read. I either have to zoom in, or turn the iPad to horizontal orientation. Ideally, I'd like it formatted to fit the iPad's screen, but then that probably wouldn't be ideal for the MacBook.

What About The DVD?
One obvious thing missing from this digital edition is the contents of the DVD that comes with the book. The demo software isn't so vital, but it would be nice to have the sample files used in the text. Fortunately, you should be able to work through the examples using your own art quite comfortably. More troubling is that there's no details provided about this absence, either before you buy, after you buy, or in the electronic book itself.

The book on the iPad
I'm not reviewing the book here, just the experience of buying one of these electronic books. Maybe in a few weeks I'll have a better feeling for how this medium "works" for me.

The purchase experience is relatively hassle free, it's easy to download the content, and the fact that it's not DRM'd in any way makes it easy to use on any device. The lack of the digital content is an annoyance, though for this book I don't think it will cause me too many difficulties. A programming book, which usually includes completed projects, may be more problematic.

At $9.99, I think it's a pretty good deal. I'm not sure I'd feel the same way about paying $26 for it! eBook Deal of the Week

NOTE: Make sure you get the iPad version of GoodReader if you have an iPad!!

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