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The Game Engine Black Book: Doom (fabiensanglard.net)
363 points by LucidLynx 45 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 146 comments



All of the comments so far are about the author’s cut. This is the second book he’s written, with the same situation. Clearly it’s worth it to him. You should just consider it a hobby project, and he’s giving readers the option to get a full color print copy of the book.

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.


Such a good writer. His Wolfenstein book had the best explanation I’ve ever seen for how floating point numbers are encoded, and that explanation is in the first several pages. If you don’t have an understanding of floating point encoding, that alone is worth the purchase price.


Here the "floating point" excerpt from the book: http://fabiensanglard.net/floating_point_visually_explained/...


Am I alone in thinking that the sign, exponent and mantissa model makes more sense, and that (-1)^S * 1.M * 2^(E-127) isn't that hard to understand? Maybe because I already understand that model, but his explanation just made it more confusing for me.


The author just updated the page with a "gift what you want" here: https://paypal.me/fabiensanglard as well as a link to the high-res PDF: https://www.filehosting.org/file/details/770140/book_300dpi....


Suppose that he is a great author and also doesn't want to make any money off of this.

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?


Am also looking forward to this book, seems better than navigating the sources on your own, where you often lack context.

I do wonder if there are other books that give detailed insight into commercial software (not games) and how it is built.


Being transparent about pricing is working against you. If I want to pay $54 for a book and I know only $0.77 are going to you, I'm simply not going to buy it.

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.


The PDF is $10 on Google Play, DRM-free. A quick search shows that Google pays out about half of the selling price.

Doesn't beat having a paper book though, if that's your thing.


> The PDF is $10 on Google Play, DRM-free.

Also watermark-free?


Funny, it's 2000 JPY in Japan. Which is 17.7 USD. Why the +75% Markup for Japan on Google Books?


The US store has the normal price at $17 and marked as on sale at $10. So the normal price matches with conversion about right.


The price in Denmark matches the price in Japan, so it looks like pricing is similar.

Since the book doesn't launch until Monday, there is also a prerelease price that is a few dollars lower.


The price in France shows the ongoing sale: 10,56€ instead of 15,09€.


Does DRM free mean you get to download an epub, or just that the inaccessible files on my phone will be less encrypted?


EDIT 2: I sent a direct email to the author asking if he could place a direct buy link on the page, or if I could directly send him some money for the book.

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.


You can buy the Google Play version for which authors get 55%. The PDF is DRM free so you can read it anywhere and I don't have to take care of billing/hosting.


The reality is even worse than what this graph suggests. From the $1.59 royalty only $0.77 stay with the author (the rest is tax), but the $0.77 are barely any profit if you account for the cost of human labour that went into writing this book in the first place. Depending on how many copies he'll sell through Amazon I think it's likely that the time spent on writing this book could have earned him more by cleaning the floor at McDonalds, which is a really sad state of affairs.


Books on technical topics establish authority and are incredibly useful for advancing your career. They open doors and teach you how to tackle big personal projects. Your dollar for dollar analysis is probably close, but isn’t the whole picture.


I think the right thing to do would have been to price the book at $99 or even $59 would have made a big impact.


If I'm calculating correctly, Amazon demands $19.30 fixed cost + $2.29 dynamic based on total price. So at $99 Amazons percentage would be a lot less than 40%.

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.


If it's put on KDP and using their print on demand, it works approximately as follows:

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.


True, but cleaning floors doesn't build (as much) reputation and fame :)


Depends who your peers are.


At this point the ethical thing to do is to pirate the book and donate the money to the author. Like, if I were him, I would just put the PDF up on the pirate bay with a link to my patreon.

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.


Are there no other publishing platforms that do this for a flat fee? Apart from taking payment and applying DRM, what else is involved? Checks to ensure the author is the legal owner of the copyright?


> Checks to ensure the author is the legal owner of the copyright?

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.


This is completely unethical to the entities the author have given the rights for distribution to.


I really can't tell if this is satire or serious.

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.


No, I'm completely serious about it.

> 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.


Wait, what? Amazon is a monopoly. They aren't charging a fair competitive price. Your "argument" only works if the author has other options for distribution. Otherwise it's not a decision.


Amazon doesn't have a monopoly on physical book production or distribution. As the author notes in TFA, he looked at other production options and they were roughly the same as Amazon.


> Amazon is a monopoly.

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.


If the author signed an exclusivity agreement with Amazon then he'd be in breach and Amazon could seek penalties. Otherwise he would not be in breach and Amazon should expect him to use other distribution channels as the fancy takes him. That's about the extent to which ethics enters into it, as far as I can see.


Yeah but fuck 'em


Why doesn't the author just put up the PDF for sale on this site? I'd pay ~$20 with Paypal right now for the PDF, straight to the author.


It's probably something the author has thought of. As soon as you take payment you enter into a world of pain. Stolen credit cards, suspended Paypal accounts, technical support, requests for different formats.

Perhaps the author prefers making books to maximizing the amount of money he makes?


I think you're overestimating the amount of "hassle" that would bring. There are payment processors that simplify that end, and the difference in profit would be so massive that I think it would be worth it.


> I think you're overestimating the amount of "hassle" that would bring. There are payment processors that simplify that end, and the difference in profit would be so massive that I think it would be worth it.

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.


That used to be an issue, but by now PayPal and CC are so common, you can even use PayPal to pay for gasoline at Shell stations [0].

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 [1]. 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 [2].

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.

[0] https://www.shell.de/autofahrer/smartpay.html

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofort%C3%BCberweisung

[2] https://www.comdirect.de/konto/tan-freiheit.html


> 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.

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 [1].

> 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.


> I am living in Germany and I stand by my observation that few people have a credit card.

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 [0].

But we are talking online here, and in that context, many people do have PayPal accounts [1], 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.

[0] https://www.thepaypers.com/expert-opinion/sepa-directdebit-t...

[1] https://www.bundestag.de/blob/434296/5dbc531d88cd738eccbe2e9...



What about sales taxes and VAT? Generally payment processors do not handle that.

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.


Use a reseller like Gumroad. They deal with all tax and VAT for you. Transaction fees are 3.5% + 30 cents. Not affiliated with them but I've looked into how to avoid dealing with problems like this previously. Paddle and Fastspring are other options but they're really for software sales I think.


The payment processors I have looked into will handle adding on VAT, then you just mass import into an accounting package.


These days you can just upload the file into one of many platforms and let them handle the payments (and even tax and VAT) instead. As it's related to gaming, a PDF on itch.io would have been very easy and cheap solution (you can set any profit sharing percentage there, including 0%, with default of 10%).


This. Thank you.

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.


For the PDF version, the author is not shipping a physical product so stripe or paypal or even Bitcoin will suffice.

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.


Author needs to add a patreon link to the article.


You can easily click on the Play Store button and pay for the PDF there. Is that really too hard?


That's what I'll do, that's what I did on the Wolfenstein book from the same author. My point is not about UX hardness or my expenses or anything like that. My point was: it's crazy there's no better way for me to get a book.pdf, and for him to get my money (a digital download and some row changes in databases).

Can't you just send xyz@gmail.com 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.


I don’t understand your side note.

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.


With a known, credible blogger-author like in the OP, he could just specify a bitcoin address, and I'd send him the money, and I'd trust him to then email me the book.pdf, it doesn't have to be a fancy tit-for-tat blockchain transaction.


But then he still has to deal with order fulfillment, returns, and customer problems. A distribution platform like Amazon and Google books handles that all for him.

If he wanted more money, there are plenty cheaper (as in time) solutions he could do instead of accepting direct payments.


>Bitcoin is not the obvious amswer

But maybe Ethereum or Litecoin or Monero is?


In case of Wolfenstein book, PDF from Play Store looks bad. It seems that fonts are included as bitmaps (not vectors) and it renders pretty ugly.


It really does look terrible - I wish I could have a more convenient way to read it on phone.


But then I assume Google will take a cut. I would much rather pay the author directly and get nothing but a download link for the PDF. How much of my money goes to Google if I order the PDF there?


Google takes a cut for the service of handling all the payment complications, including fraud prevention, refund requests, charge-backs, etc..

It's not like they are doing nothing.


Anyone with experience selling content on SendOwl? I have bought digital goods from sellers using its service a couple of times, as a customer it was hassle-free.


Probably there's some contract attached to it that says he can't do that.

Otherwise, yeah, he should go down that road.


I doubt that, since his distributor is Google Play. It's not a standard term on e-book platforms and I can't see why any author would go for exclusivity on Google Play.


I agree.

Do you think he is worried about people sharing it? Might just put a watermark on it.


Similar story: "My Amazon bestseller made me nothing"

https://www.salon.com/2013/03/15/hey_amazon_wheres_my_money/

Authors make little or nothing, but Bezos keeps getting richer :)


I have no idea what Amazon has got to do with his money... he didn't self-publish, he sold through a publisher (though an indie one). What did he expect? I'm amazed he made as much as he did ($12K).


This system is clearly working to the benefit of all. There is no need to consider alternatives. Now head down and keep working!


King of the river in the middle


I'm quite sure it's a great book. But like I'm really impressed for the first thing this book has taught me and it's not about games... It's just unbelievable how much money Amazon makes selling books!


I went on to a publisher site to buy ebook because kindle version is not available, and during checkout I was thrown out because mysterious error message.

I do think Amazon is winning for a game reason.


Same happened to me with the Pearson site recently. Customer service took days to reply and their response was some version 'try writing us back at this email since they handle your specific problem better than we do.' Its ridiculous how hard it gets to give people your money

edit: still locked out of my cart on Pearson


Yeah, I know this is becoming common and online markets are a race to a bottom, but in stark numbers like this...it really feels like there isn't a good ending to this story.


As long as I can remember it’s been this way, authors have always made very tiny percentage royalties on physical books. I don’t know what the figures are like for digital distribution but if they aren’t better it’s a travesty.


Well, Richard Bach writes in The Bridge Across Forever that royalties from Jonathan Livingston Seagull made him rich (before he overspent it), so I assume this is more recent phenomena. Granted it's a bit different level of "bestseller" though...


That’s because it costs money to print (and maybe pulp) physical books. It doesn’t cost anything to “print” a digital book


It's huge, especially considering how much pushback Apple gets for charging app developers "only" 30%. Really shows how little leverage book publishers have today.


I don't know where he is getting his pricing. I can do an 8.5x11 400 page color perfect bound for a print cost of $16.31. Using a list of $30 and Amazon/B&N (ie, online retailer) distribution wholesale discount of 30% gives author $4.69 per copy.

(I have no idea what size author intends, if he has it in 6x9 trade size cost is even lower)


I bet he’s only looking at POD. He could get a lot less if he did an offset run but then he has to manage warehousing books for an indefinite amount of time.


And where do you get such price?


Not sure if that was directed at me but my estimate is using Lightning Source as the printer/distributor. The wholesale cut only applies to online (ie, Amazon, BN.com, etc) distribution and not bricks n mortar (as then the compensation is much higher and you must take returns).

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.


I can confirm similar pricing here in Canada. I have no idea where the author lives but their statistics there seem incredibly off.


wait, how can the distributor take 40% and production 57%?

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.


> say 10% for both.

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.


I discovered that the economics of having things printed are surprising. It costs about the same to print one copy as it does to print a thousand copies. Nearly all the expense is in the setup, the marginal cost of paper is pretty small.

The trick is to correctly guess how many you'll need.


Digital print has changed this balance a bit. With offset printing tech there are huge one-time costs


That's true of most mfg in general. If you ever want say a custom badge for a car, it'll cost you as much for a handful as 5-10,000 of them.


Yeah, ~30¤ seems a very reasonable price for that sort of a printing job.


> it's probably just me not being accustomed to the book selling ripoff, but still feels like a monumental, epic-level ripoff.

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.


He's getting rooked in some way I don't understand. If he published with amazon itself you can see the prices:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834340

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.


According to your link, color is 6 times more expensive per page for Amazon.com.


Well, there it is. Even after you said that I had to spend some good time clicking through those weird internal "show hidden text" links to find it. I can't believe color costs so much more--clearly he should have just made it B&W. People buy such things for information more than pictures (I think).


> I can't believe color costs so much more

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.


Depending on what it is, color can be very important.


You can do two editions, a color and a black and white edition. I buy a Game and Puzzle Design Journal that offers exactly that, through Lulu: http://gapdjournal.com/issues/. I still pay the extra for the color version because I think it's better, but for those who don't care as much, they can pay less and get it cheaper that way.

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 was researching this recently, specifically in the UK.

I found a 2013 article from a small indie publisher that didn't want to publish any more books. [0]

eBooks are where you can make money, but even then the distributor will make disproportionately more relative to the effort they put in.

[0] http://blog.celandor.co.uk/?p=75


Is there a way I can give Fabien some extra cash for this, outside of the usual flow? I don't think those percentages are fair.


> wait, how can the distributor take 40% and production 57%?

No kidding! I thought app stores were rough at 30%!


And Amazon on e-books take 65%, unless you're willing to give them additional controls on the e-book -- in which case they'll take 30%.


What would those "additional controls" look like? Amazon adding DRM?


Mainly less freedom on pricing. But even then there are some territories where you're going to get 35% after bandwidth costs are deducted [0]. Strangely, from what I've seen, KDP appears agnostic on DRM and gives you the choice.

[0] Yes, really.


I am baffled at the amount how much the author makes from each book. 31$ production costs seem high but since it's 427 full-colored pages it seems reasonable. However, how come Amazon takes 22$ dollars on top of that? There is no way it's that expensive to distribute the book, there must be some other services involved?

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?


Confusing pie chart indeed.


> The result is $1.59 royalty and $0.77 profit per book sold.

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?


>Here are all the numbers. When I upload the PDF on Amazon, a minimal price is automatically calculated. In the case of the DOOM, Amazon sets the minimal price at $51.35. There is a slider which authors can use in order to add their "share" on top of Amazon price. I have added $3.88 which Amazon also takes a cut on. The result is $1.59 royalty and $0.77 profit per book sold.

I didn't understand this part either. Wouldn't charging $59.99 sustainably increase the author's profit?


Only if the book would sustainable sell volume at that price point.


> In the case of the DOOM, Amazon sets the minimal price at $51.35.

I have trouble understanding this


Amazon calculates production costs (number of pages, paper finish, etc) and handling costs (weight, based on number of pages). And probably also makes a estimate of the number of books being sold (given the huge dataset they own, some ML analysis could probably make a fairly accurate estimate).

The minimum price is what they charge for the production and distribution, anything on top of that is your revenue.


Yes, books are not a great way to make an income for most people.

Kindle sells at either 30% to 70% royalties, usually at $2.99/book or less.


It's 30% for <$2.99 or >$9.99, 70% in between. (This is for ebooks, as you said - paper books might be different.)


> only taking a 77 cent profit on one year of work seems insane

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.


(Changing the subject away from the cut)

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.


What do you guys think of a kickstarter for his next book?

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.


This doesn’t seem like a bad idea! This way he can gauge demand and proceed working accordingly. The price could also be set at something reasonable which makes it available to the casual reader and not at a $99 price tag that would probably only be purchased by die hard fans.


Wow, not a single comment about contents or quality of the book.


It's a 400 page book that came out a few hours ago. I doubt anyone unconnected to the author is in a position to comment on its contents.

(But plenty of people have noted the previous volume was worthwhile).


The author's published material is very well known (and appreciated); in a positive and paradoxical sense, "there's nothing new under the sun".

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.


You can upload it to peecho.com, according to their website printing and shipping would be about 50USD in full color. So setting the same 55USD as Amazon would give you a 5USD profit (instead of the 77cents).


Very happy to see this published. I bought the book on Wolfenstein 3D and read every single word of it even though I don't much care for Wolf3D - the book is inherently interesting.

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.


I wonder how much Google Books takes compared to Amazon and if Fabien considered other publishing platforms, with less egregious profit cuts.


Google Books seem to pay 55% for each sale (Source: https://www.quora.com/For-an-ebook-sold-on-Google-Books-how-...)

The book is being sold from the 10th on my local Google Books store for around USD 19.


If you're outraged at the author's cut, then i have some bad news for you, you'll need to stop buying food and clothes.


Damn shame the author only gets 77 cents per copy. No wonder Amazon started as a book seller.


Apparently the Amazon low margin strategy doesn't count for their book sales... that is absolutely brutal! Wouldn't it make more sense for the author to sell the book directly on his website as well?


Publish the screenshots & drawings as a separate book in color. Sell it as an optional bundle for those who want it in published form. For those who don't care, Publish the book in black and white, with a QR code to open links to a web page with the screenshot & drawings. There's no way in hell I'm going to put in all that effort to earn 77cents :-( when other's are profiting much more. I'll rather give away the book for free. I can't believe in 2018 folks are still getting gouged to publish.


Could be nice to have a list of chapters.


Is this book relevant in the current scenario of game development tools?

Just curious.


I am sure there are interesting insights and lessons and details if you're into game development, but the book is about a game engine - and underlying hardware of the same era - that is 25 years old.. So, caveat emptor?


I read a similar book a few years back. I think it was called "Game programming bible" or something. While the techniques were interesting, more interesting was the way developers solved critical problems (like large scale collision detection).

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.


From the prologue of the previous book on Wolf3D:

"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."


Amazing how many people think they know better than the author on print and distribution- like a guy who spends years researching and writing a work like this is some sort of rube taken by the first huckster he runs across. There are several well known options in POD, he went with Amazon, maybe he knows something we don't.


$0.77 from $54 for the author is a disaster.


It's a niche book, why not sell it for $60? That's 10% more for the buyer, and 380% more for the author.

The optimal price might even be higher than that if you're looking to maximize author profit.


Yea, at least part of the reason the authors cut is so small is that he priced it so that his share is minimal. Even a small increase would double his per-book earnings. Presumably he doesn't care too much about maximizing his income from this, and just wants to have the book be as widespread as possible.


It seems that book authors make almost no money across the world in this era (especially they put a lot of efforts into writing a book), I feel pathetic


Is this a historical piece or is there enough detail on how you would recreate your own version of Doom? If not, is there anything like the latter?


It's like the previous book on Wolf3D, "an engineering book", so there ought to be enough detail to recreate your own version of Doom. Furthermore, your own version of Doom on the original hardware it was made for. For Wolf3D, that would be the 386. Of course you're more likely interested in recreating for modern hardware, in which case the book should still be applicable, but some things they had to do will be different, and some things you'd have to do would also be different -- probably less work for you to get to the same place.

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.


Wierd, I can get the ebook from google play books but not for the kindle. Amazon is only selling the paper book.


I don't understand the point of selling a DRM free eBook. It's going to be pirated, wouldn't it? What could be some reasons behind him doing so?


I don't understand the point of buying an eBook with DRM. I'm going to run into an issue trying to get it to work on one of my devices at one point or another. The lack of a DRM-free option is what would tempt me to piracy.

And can you point to a single piece of media which has never been pirated, DRM or no?


Having it be DRM-free means he doesn't have to mess around with every store under the sun. I'm not a Google Play user normally, but this lets me purchase it through the web interface, download the PDF, and then read it however I want. For his book on Wolfenstein, I did just that by reading it in Apple Books on my iPad.


What format is the book in? A regular PDF isn’t as good in Apple Books, for example. Taking notes, night mode, bookmarks, ...


> What could be some reasons behind him doing so?

Giving his readers the ability to read the book without requiring them to install proprietary software.


It might be pirated, but probably not very much. First, a book PDF is probably 100MB or more, so too big to email. Second, it's a niche market, so there probably won't be enough seeders for a decent torrent. Third, it takes some amount of effort to host a copy on the web, and there's very little benefit in doing so.


If it's digital it's going to be pirated regardless the DRM attempts .


Some people like to share knowledge more than they like (or need, seeing the numbers) to make money.


Im confused how to buy it.

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




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