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What I’ve Earned and Learned From Writing A Popular(ish) Ruby Book

By Peter Cooper / October 10, 2009

begruby-edition-2-cover.gif A few days ago I received the latest in a long line of royalty statements for my book, Beginning Ruby (as published by Apress). Long time readers might recall that Ruby Inside was started principally to promote the book, but turned into so much more that the book took a back seat. Well, the whim came over me to share the murky details of being the author of such a book, including how the royalty statements work (or not), how much is earned, sales figures, and so forth.

So I wrote What I've Earned (And Learned) From Writing "Beginning Ruby" over at the new, official Beginning Ruby promotional site. I wasn't planning on mentioning it here, but the post became popular on Hacker News and Reddit to such an extent (almost 10,000 pageviews so far!) that it must be a story people want to read - so check it out.

For those who are interested, Beginning Ruby's 2nd edition was published just a couple of months ago with lots of updates, new sections, and two all-new chapters on Web application frameworks (Rails, Sinatra, and Ramaze) and GUI app development (using Shoes - erk). You can buy it at here or learn more at the official Beginning Ruby site. It's a great book for people who are new to Beginning Ruby (or programming generally, even) and you can see tons of reviews on Amazon's listing for the 1st edition (we're waiting for them to be merged into the 2nd edition's page!) or at the official site.

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  1. Pablo says:

    reading this part:

    Now, according to my contract, **I own the copyright to the entire book except for the cover, table of contents, and the indexes**. My contract also states that I have exclusively allowed Apress to publish and reproduce my content. So.. I suspect that if you took my book, removed the cover, contents and indexes, and turned it into a PDF with a cover of your own creation, **Apress couldn’t do anything about it because everything would be my copyright**

    I wonder... isn't that exactly what Chacon has done with 'Pro Git'. The online version does not contain either the index or the cover, so technically he's the legal owner of the online version.

    So what would happen if 'somebody' did an online version of 'Beginning Ruby' without the indexes, cover and table of contents?

  2. Nando says:

    Dude, when I click on the links to view your article I get redirected to the site. Looks like your web site was hacked.

  3. Josh says: keeps redirecting me to

  4. Wesley Parish says:

    You are aware, are you not, that has hijacked the dns? Or at least, that is what it seems to me to have happened - even google shows as a site directly relevant to, and you can't get to for love or money.

    Someone should bring it to their attention, lest be in for some incredibly tough love from infuriated web surfers.

  5. Peter Cooper says:

    It was delberate guys. The article got Slashdotted on October 16/17 and incorrectly summarized so there was lots of nasty stuff flying around - so I decided to redirect it elsewhere for a few days. It's all back now :-) Thanks for letting me know!

  6. Ragu says:

    This is the answer to your question regarding 'Licensed Rights'.

    Foreign editions don't necessarily mean translations. For example, american editions of the books will be too costly in India. So mostly books are manufactured in India which can be distributed only in limited countries (e.g. india, pakistan, srilanka, nepal, burma). At times they are called 'Low priced editions'. The indian publisher will pay for the original american publisher.

    The content of the book is exactly same. Except that it is about 4 times cheaper here in India ;-)

    I enjoyed your article. It helped address my long time mystery of how authors make money from my purchases.

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