Interview With Bill Pollock, Founder Of No Starch Press10/03/2010 by Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate.The views expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.Bill Pollock is the president and founder of No Starch Press, which publishes books on computing. Known to offer the “finest in geek entertainment,” the publishing house has released such titles as “Steal This Computer Book,” “How Linux Works,” “Hacking: The Art of Exploitation,” “The Cult of Mac,” and “The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide.” Its books are largely about hacking, open source, security, programming, and non-Windows-based operating systems, such as Linux.Mr. Pollock shared his thoughts with Intellectual Property Watch about hacking, piracy, and future of the book publishing business.INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY WATCH [IPW]: How do you view the threat of piracy affecting your business model and intellectual property right in general?BILL POLLOCK: There are people who pirate books. There are pirate sites for technical books. A lot of people just collect the stuff. They don’t even read it. The whole thing is they want to have it. If you try to prevent them, then they’ll work that much harder to defeat you. Even if they don’t care to read the thing, it is like “if want to lock me out, then I am going to find another way to get in there.”IPW: Between Amazon, Kindle eReaders, and online publishers, how have the competitive dynamics of the book publishing industry evolved recently?POLLOCK: In the book publishing business, before the internet, when you released a book and because you controlled the distribution channel, there were very few channels. It was very easy to control. You would go and buy promotion at Barnes & Noble and Borders [bookstores in the United States]. When you wanted to buy a book, you went to a bookstore. Then Amazon came along and all of a sudden all of these books become available [on the internet]. So for traditional publishers, that is a new challenge. Now they don’t get to just buy their way into these markets. They have a lot of competition.Some publishers are having a hard time, but fortunately, we are not having a hard time because we are publishing books that people want to buy. It depends on the topic.You are looking at what makes a publisher versus a printer, for example. We are selling people a certain brand and they order a certain quality from us that is going to be worth reading and it is worth the price.Some publishers that publish book after book after book are really hurting. People are like “I don’t need that or that’s not useful for me or their stuff is no good and I’m not going to pay the price for it.” So we try to publish selectively and interesting titles so that people will say “I think that’s cool and I’m interested in buying it,” rather just some boring reference on something and they buy it because they have to and so on.IPW: So is there a market for people reading a huge manual electronically? Won’t they want the book instead?POLLOCK: I personally don’t care. I’ll sell books any way someone wants to read it. If they want to read it on their Kindle, then we’ll sell it on their Kindle. Unfortunately, the Kindle is not the best way to display it. There is something about the book as a medium that is very attractive.I actually talked about this when I visited a class of 11 and 12 year olds and I asked them about books and I figured they wouldn’t like books but they actually like something about the physical form of books. Who knows why, but there is something about the physical form of a book that people like.But I don’t care because I am in the business of producing packaged content – here is something worth reading in whatever form you want to read it. If people want to read it on the Kindle, then I’ll sell it electronically. If people want to sell it in print, then I’ll sell it in print.We’re not publishing novels here. I think people who publish coffee table books will still have their own market, but with cookbooks, when it comes to recipes, I just type in the ingredients on Google and that is my recipe. But by the same token, if I was really into French cooking, then a book on French cooking can give me in-depth, reliable information that is an aspect of the internet that is missing. A global search result is only based on what people are reading. What they are looking at isn’t something you necessarily want to see. [Valuable content] is not necessarily a popularity contest.We’re a business – I’m not going to say that we’re not going to sell to them electronically because you must buy the printed book. So if you want it this way, then let’s figure out how to get it to you in the first place.IPW: Video game companies now mostly produce console games since they are more difficult to pirate and distribute than the PC versions. Will book publishers move to a more locked-down electronic distribution system like their video game developer counterparts?POLLOCK: I’m not focused on that. But when we licence for content to various mediums, we have the Kindle deal going but we also have unlocked .PDF [files]. We play every side of the fence. I don’t know which way people will go, but the reality is that people will buy versions for the Kindle even though there are free versions everywhere of so many books. It’s not a one-to-one conversion. People are not going to buy a Kindle version because there is a free version on a pirate site. People buy the Kindle because they can put whatever they want on it.IPW: Thank you.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"Interview With Bill Pollock, Founder Of No Starch Press" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.