It feels good to be part of an innovative community. Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt, the venerable Pragmatic Programmers seem to have a knack for finding and/or creating the concepts and products that fuel many innovative trends.
The print industry, be it magazines or books, is at a crossroads trying to figure out how to transition into the digital age. When Dave and Andy decided to create their own publishing company, the Pragmatic Bookshelf, they created the industry’s best tool-chain for authoring and publishing books.
Their most recent innovation in this traditionally stodgey industry was the Beta Book. This is a book that is sold in electronic form (PDF in their case) before it is finished. This is great for technical books because it gives the readers early access and allows them to provide feedback and corrections before the book is cast into stone.
All-in-all, it is a win-win situation for everyone. They deserve your thanks (and your business).
I expect we will see the other technical book publishers follow along in due time.
UPDATE: Several readers have informed me that Manning has been doing this for years, even before the Pragmatic Bookshelf (at least as early as 2003, possibly earlier). Thanks for the correction.