I'm the publisher at Peachpit, and I want to thank you for your comments. Your words sting, as they should, but they also inspire us to work harder to find a better solution for Print on Demand reprints. We don't use this reprint solution very often, and most certainly not for any of our image-intensive graphics and design titles. What exacerbates this is that although we try to monitor these reprints carefully, our supplier keeps changing their equipment. We're in the process of trying to find a new solution.Which means, of course, I feel better about them.]
I'd naively assumed "on-demand reprints" would be an unmitigated good. Just-in-time printing should reduce waste and improve services. Unfortunately, at least one publisher's solution isn't up to the task. Instead of using a high quality PDF to generate reprints that closely resemble the original, Peachpit Press (Visual Quickstart, etc) uses something like a high quality black and white raster (scan) image for prints. That's unfortunate, but the real problem is a failure in product description (from my Amazon review):
Amazon.com: Python (Visual QuickStart Guide): Books: Chris Fehily (Amazon review by me)Peachpit has a warning icon on the cover of the book, but it's insufficiently descriptive. They have not updated the Amazon description at all, the image picture on Amazon doesn't show the 'on-demand' icon. I'd have kept my respect for Peachpit if the Amazon product description included this warning text:
Amazon doesn't allow us to rate the quality of an author's work separately from the publisher's presentation. That's unfortunate, because as an introductory guide to Python this is quite a good work.
Unfortunately, as of 3/07, it's also being published by Peachpit Press as an "on-demand reprint". There is nothing in the Amazon product description to tell you about this change, and indeed I'm not sure Amazon has any way of knowing about it. If you bought this book in a bookstore you'd see the "on-demand reprint" icon on the front cover, but Peachpit Press should have changed the description on Amazon. This reflects poorly on Peachpit, a company I've previously had respect for.
Peachpit's "on-demand reprint" technology is crude. The book resembled the sort of high-quality bound photocopies I used to see sold for $1-$2 in "third world" bookstores twenty years ago. It is entirely gray scale (black and white?) with blurry screen shots and irregular contrast.
The effect is quite annoying. It doesn't make the book worthless by any means, but it hurts. The cover price is $22, $14 is probably a fair sale price IF you know that you're getting an "on-demand reprint". If you can get a used copy you might do better, but of course you might end up with a used "on-demand reprint".
Of course, if you read this you now know what you're getting, and you can make an informed decision without any surprises. Which is as it should be.
This product is now an on-demand reprint. It is black and white only with variable contrast. Some images and text will be difficult to read.If they did that then I'd be fine no matter what they charged, because I'd know what I was getting.
If you get one of these on-demand reprints from Amazon, be sure to write a review describing what you're received. That's the best way to provide feedback to the publishers and to Amazon. In the meantime, I'll use Amazon to buy used rather than new books from Peachpit; that will give me slightly better odds of a much higher quality product.