The first book, Game Engine Black Book Wolfenstein 3D is fantastic. This goes back to an era where one person can read the source code for a game and understand what it actually is doing at the hardware level. It would be fantastic for an entry level computer science class or someone who just wants to understand how a game engine works. The exhaustive color illustrations and images, the reason why the author makes no money, make is so much easier to grasp the concepts. If you are an experienced developer or someone who can understand complex topics just by reading text and formulas, the this isn’t such a big deal.
Can’t wait to read this new book.
This sort of project has got to be hard to justify when people like him have competing interests and projects available. What if his third book takes an extra 2 years because he can't justify the time to work on it?
How many well-meaning, potentially great authors have we lost to other careers because of these economics?
I do wonder if there are other books that give detailed insight into commercial software (not games) and how it is built.
The production costs might be reasonable, but $20+ to Amazon just for existing? Fuck that. I mean I use Amazon when I know their margins are razor thin (for most things they are), but in this case, big nope here.
Doesn't beat having a paper book though, if that's your thing.
Since the book doesn't launch until Monday, there is also a prerelease price that is a few dollars lower.
I’m extremely confused and curious as to why on Earth the author simply didn’t place a PDF on their site with a PayPal (or less evil alternative) button on his site.
I personally absolutely refuse to purchase it knowing that Amazon is taking all of the Author’s money.
I actually think it’s detrimental to display that data - as it seems it’s not just myself that seems less likely to purchase based off that data.
Instead of many of the comments here being about the staggering loss the authour is taking by not following this simple route, at $10-20 a PDF we could all be discussing the contents of the book, instead.
Hopefully the author sees this and can make some sensible decisions for themselves - from what I hear their last book was fantastic.
EDIT: To the author: if I see a direct buy link on your page I will buy two copies within the day, as it seems that even $5-10 profit off two sales at $10-20 would provide you as much as up to 15 sales. I’m in the music business. I get slim royalties and I get how much effort we put into art.
I put some similar data into another publishers system and it calculates roughly a third of a $99 book would go to the author. (softcover; 400 pages of which 200 are in color) Tax would further reduce the profit.
The cost of the printing of the book is subtracted.
You then get 60% of what is left.
The only way amazon's percentage will reduce below 40% is if you print the book through another source and sell it on Amazon as a platform. Then you're going to need to manage inventory.
Source: editing, typesetting and researching self-publishing for a friend who's going through this process right now.
Edit: I see it's also on Google Books, which I presume has a more ethical paying structure. Sadly, that's not available in my corner of the EU yet.
As far as I can tell, the check is basically a tick-box declaration that you have the rights to publish. Amazon also want tax and payment information.
Some self-publishers publish on Kobo, but they're a bit opaque on what their cut is.
On each pirated book, the e-book "distributor" (i.e. google play) is doing nothing. They won't be doing any marketing, they won't have any distribution costs: it'll just be as if it were a less popular book than it actually is.
I'm sure the author could have set up such an arrangement for the e-book himself if he preferred it.
Bear in mind that actually running a payment page results in a whole world of pain surrounding stolen credit cards, refund requests, compatibility problems and technical support demands. If you enjoy the writing, you probably don't want to be doing that.
> On each pirated book, the e-book "distributor" (i.e. google play) is doing nothing. They won't be doing any marketing, they won't have any distribution costs: it'll just be as if it were a less popular book than it actually is.
The author knew that, and yet he made voluntarily decision of going into an agreement with them. Disrespecting this agreement is disrespecting this decision and, therefore, the author himself.
Can you please back up this claim with some data? Certainly doesn't look as a monopoly on book distribution and online book sales from here.
Perhaps the author prefers making books to maximizing the amount of money he makes?
But do they also accept payment methods that are common on other countries. For example, in Germany credit cards are often frowned upon and many people have no credit card; instead SEPA money transfer and SEPA direct debit (the latter strongly preferred) are the common ways to pay in the internet.
Overall it's also more of a problem in physical retail, Germans who do a lot of shopping online usually have no issue at all with paying by CC/PayPal, often getting a prepaid CC just for that.
But it's not like you are missing out on some massive part of German customer base because paying online with SEPA is usually more hassle than paying online with PayPal, so most people prefer the later.
Particularly due to the fact that most "quick" online SEPA payment schemes involve giving a third party access to your banking account . Which shouldn't be an issue, as most actions that involve sending money still require a TAN, but some banks have relaxed these rules, allowing smaller amounts to be transferred without supplying a TAN .
It's not difficult to see the potential problems here: If Sofortüberweisung ever has a breach, there's the very real possibility that the data could be used to trigger massive amounts of fraudulent money transfers.
I am living in Germany and I stand by my observation that few people have a credit card. PayPal luckily offers SEPA direct debit, even though many consider PayPal for reasons that are off topic here as "workaround".
> Particularly due to the fact that most "quick" online SEPA payment schemes involve giving a third party access to your banking account .
> It's not difficult to see the potential problems here: If Sofortüberweisung ever has a breach, there's the very real possibility that the data could be used to trigger massive amounts of fraudulent money transfers.
Sofortueberweisung is a security nightmare that nobody should use. Just offer SEPA direct debit.
That's why I said it's mainly an issue in physical retail due to many retailers not wanting to go through the hassle of getting a CC system in addition to their already established SEPA direct debit system, the fees charged by CC companies is another factor as they are much higher, on a per transaction basis than what's being charged by SEPA direct debit .
But we are talking online here, and in that context, many people do have PayPal accounts , that happened regardless of the massive controversies which surrounded PayPal a couple of years ago. The ven-diagram here is quite easy: People who like shopping internationally online are more versed in online shopping and thus more likely to have a PayPal account exactly for that reason.
People who don't shop online as much, or not at all, do not and people who only shop online at domestic companies, make use of the established SEPA systems.
> Sofortueberweisung is a security nightmare that nobody should use. Just offer SEPA direct debit.
SEPA direct debit can be its own security nightmare issue because you are essentially giving a third party allowance to just charge your account, for whatever amount. It also does not replace the use-case of Sofortüberweisung because Sofortüberweisung allows "instant fulfillment", which SEPA direct debit usually does not.
Because SEPA direct debit requires time for processing, time during which no product/service will be delivered. That's where Sofortüberweisung comes in: It allows payment with instant fulfillment because Sofortüberweisung is like the "man in the middle" who confirms the transaction actually took place, allowing for fulfillment before the payment actually arrives at the seller.
Note: I'm not saying Sofortüberweisund or PayPal are amazing services, I'm merely pointing out the difference between Germans shopping online and German physical retail because it's the latter that suffers from a lack of CC support. But plenty of Germans are fine taking other, CC-less routes, like PayPal or Sofortüberweisung, to get their online shopping done.
In that context, you won't be missing out on a massive customer base due to your lack of SEPA payment options, Germans who want what you sell will have/find an alternative way to pay for it, without using SEPA.
Selling copies of one book online to customers in multiple jurisdictions subjects one to many of the same rules, regulations, and registration and reporting requirements as an entity selling copies of thousands of different books.
For the seller of the single book, dealing with all of this is likely prohibitive unless the book is a massive hit.
Also Google Play Books shares is much higher (55%). My take was that it was impossible to make any real money on paper without charging an outrageous amount. I am happy with GPB share and people who really want a paper version do get it for a reasonable amount.
I feel too many independents have been tricked into thinking direct sales is too dangerous or too hard.
Honestly getting 10x the profit is worth some headache.
Good marketing on Amazon's part over the years though, scared many independents away with FUD regarding direct sales for digital downloads.
Can't you just send firstname.lastname@example.org money on Paypal? At the cut that Amazon takes, if people send him $20, and half the people then "chargeback", and he just automatically sends the money back, he's still way ahead. Obviously the author is a smart guy so it can't be this simple, I'm just wondering.
Sidenote: The fact that "Bitcoin" is not the obvious answer is social/product proof that "Bitcoin" didn't work.
Bitcoin is a payment network, not a distribution network so it would still require technical/manual investment from the author.
From what I’ve heard, there are some decentralized distribution platforms being created on other blockchains, but ignoring those I can’t see a reason to consider a payment network as a solution to a distribution problem - what the author needs is a distribution system that will serve his pdf in exchange for payment, and likely wants to treat payments as an abstraction.
It would be trivial to build a system using Bitcoin or other blockchains that would generate a unique download link to the book, but then the author would have to be tech support for any customer that ran into problems.
If he wanted more money, there are plenty cheaper (as in time) solutions he could do instead of accepting direct payments.
But maybe Ethereum or Litecoin or Monero is?
It's not like they are doing nothing.
Otherwise, yeah, he should go down that road.
Do you think he is worried about people sharing it?
Might just put a watermark on it.
Authors make little or nothing, but Bezos keeps getting richer :)
I do think Amazon is winning for a game reason.
edit: still locked out of my cart on Pearson
(I have no idea what size author intends, if he has it in 6x9 trade size cost is even lower)
Using a firm like Lightning Source requires a little more upfront legwork than Amazon, but not substantially so and really is appropriate if author plans to publish again.
why isn't there a competitor that takes a lower percentage? say 10% for both.
are the economics of book selling so atrocious for the authors in general? how can one accept .77ct profit on $54 of sale?
it's probably just me not being accustomed to the book selling ripoff, but still feels like a monumental, epic-level ripoff.
Why do you think you could print a 400 page full-color book for $5 and make a profit, especially at lowest volumes/print on demand? That stuff isn't just expensive because printing companies are evil.
The trick is to correctly guess how many you'll need.
It's not just Amazon. I have friends who have published books with traditional publishers as well and the author's margin is razor thin vs the book price.
For example, here's how we calculate the minimum list price for a 300-page black ink paperback sold on the US marketplace:
$4.45 (printing cost) / 60% (royalty rate) = $7.42 (minimum list price).
I don't know about color, but it can't change it that much.
Color is lower volume, given that many books are text-only or just some line graphics, and do not need color. It's also more complex to print (I've seen some surprising failures from cheap color printing in the occasional project I've helped with) and thus also possibly has a higher rate of complaints. And since they do the same rate for everyone there's compensation for overly expensive projects in there too - if you have b/w with some color elements you pay the same rate as someone ordering full-page, full-color graphics.
With more flexible printers, it's common to arrange pages and images inside the book so only some sheets are expensively printed in color, but Amazon doesn't appear to be set up to offer that. With offset-printing, there's also things like using only one additional color instead of full CMY, or printing the color elements for all language editions the same and only varying the (black) text to reduce costs.
As a price comparison, their most recent edition is a compilation of six issues at 524 pages. The black and white edition is 30 euros and the color edition is 85 euros, so a 55 euro difference between the two editions, of the same content.
I found a 2013 article from a small indie publisher that didn't want to publish any more books. 
eBooks are where you can make money, but even then the distributor will make disproportionately more relative to the effort they put in.
No kidding! I thought app stores were rough at 30%!
 Yes, really.
Although the pricing seems weird, the pie chart shown on the page is even more so. How it's possible that Amazon is most of the pie with 40% percentage?
That's brutal. I mean I get it that production and distribution is costly (books are heavy), but only taking a 77 cent profit on one year of work seems insane.
What does the breakdown usually look like for e-books?
I didn't understand this part either. Wouldn't charging $59.99 sustainably increase the author's profit?
I have trouble understanding this
The minimum price is what they charge for the production and distribution, anything on top of that is your revenue.
Kindle sells at either 30% to 70% royalties, usually at $2.99/book or less.
While I agree that the percentages are way too lopsided for the distributor, you have to remember that income from this book will persist for years, if not decades.
Many a mickle, makes a muckle.
So while it might look like "little" on its own, I'm pretty sure this can easily add up over time, particularly if an author keeps releasing books that keep on selling.
Which makes the high distributor take even more outrageous.
I applaud Fabiens' work. I have been following since his blog days on the source code analysis of games and I'm so happy he's writing books on the matter. I will fully support him going forward.
However, the first edition of the Wolfenstein Black Book left me a bit miffed. It had many grammatical errors and even some layout awkwardness that would not pass an editor's review. I understand the reasons: English is not his first language, this was a work of passion, etc. But it still mars the experience. I assume the second edition fixed those; I wish I had waited.
I've been eagerly waiting for his book on Doom. But I recommend waiting for the second edition, once he had time to take the readers' feedback into account.
He sets a funding goal that achieves profit for him and then people can pledge $10 for an e-book, $25 for b&w or $50 for color.
This way he gets to hold onto the intellectual property until he has cleared his goal and make the prints of the books a limited time offer which could drive up their demand.
(But plenty of people have noted the previous volume was worthwhile).
The content is also extremely technical. I don't think in itself is "easy" to comment (at least, not in early stages).
What's new, in a negative and surprising sense, is how little the author is profiting from the books.
I immediately ordered the physical version. It's a pity that the profit is so incredibly low. I'd consider just selling it for $69 or $99 or whatever. I'm not sure it would make such a difference in term of sales - the people who can read this book are in a very nice industry after all. The PDF can be sold at a much higher margin for accessibility for those who really can't pay for the physical book.
The book is being sold from the 10th on my local Google Books store for around USD 19.
However, in this day and age, almost all low level problems have been extracted away by game engines such as Unity / Unreal, etc. The relevancy of the book as a manual to learn seem limited, looks more of an interesting read than a helpful resource.
"It may appear like a waste of time to read and write about "old" engines dedicated to extinct machines, compilers, and operating systems, but they carry tremendous value. Not only are they packed with clever tricks, they also remind us of the constraints programmers from the past had to overcome. They remind us of the spirit it once took to reach new frontiers. Things have not changed much. These days we may deal with gigabytes, dedicated hardware accelerators, and multi-core CPUs but the spirit it takes to keep on moving forward remains the same."
The optimal price might even be higher than that if you're looking to maximize author profit.
https://jonathanwhiting.com/games/knossu/ is an example of "What can you do with a Doom style raycasting engine if you're tired of realism and shooting things?" I don't know where the author would have learned about Doom's techniques (perhaps just looking at it, perhaps the source code, perhaps .plan archives, or perhaps Fabien's earlier review here with included further reading at the end: http://fabiensanglard.net/doomIphone/doomClassicRenderer.php ) but there's definitely other resources out there. I'd recommend the book though just from having read the previous one.
And can you point to a single piece of media which has never been pirated, DRM or no?
Giving his readers the ability to read the book without requiring them to install proprietary software.
If it just was a link with PayPal or credit card I would have already bought it.
Instead I get linked to crap sites Amazon and Google