Thought for raising money...Manual Ebook?

Seeing that PBXinasFlash is looking at ways to raise money… why doesn’t FreePBX come out with a purchasable ebook? Another user had asked be about such a thing.

This is a FreePBX forum, not a PBXinasFlash (sic) forum - please don’t be confused into thinking the two are one and the same. PBX in a Flash includes FreePBX in their distribution, but so do other distributions (Elastix, AsteriskNOW, FonicaPABX, etc.).

The problem with any kind of book, even an e-book, it that it rapidly becomes outdated. But more to the point, what would the existence of such a book imply with regard to the free documentation that’s already posted online?

It would be nearly impossible to write such a book without drawing on the work of others - do you compensate them or do you try to rewrite everything so you are using their work but making it appear to be your own (as in Tom Lehrer’s song “Lobachevsky”)? And then what’s to keep people from using the online documentation that’s already out there, or using the documentation from another distribution that also includes FreePBX, instead of buying the book? For that matter, why would anyone buy that book when PiaF without Tears (link is to PDF file) is freely available? I suppose some might, just to make a donation, but then they could make a donation anyway without getting a book.

I will also offer the unsolicited opinion that the PiaF folks probably ought to be careful about how they try to raise funds, so they don’t alienate their users (not to mention the possibility of legal entanglements if they don’t pass some of the monies received down to the other projects that make up their package). For a while they were talking about charging for updates - I think that would be a very bad move for them because there are too many other distributions that don’t do that, and because one good way for your distribution to gain a reputation as crap is when a lot of people are running (possibly buggy or insecure) older versions because they got those for free and won’t pay to upgrade. IMHO the real way to make money in VoIP is to offer services to businesses that don’t have the time/ability/desire to learn to set up something like FreePBX. Many businesses will pay because for them, time is money. But individual users - the people who often try things at home first, and only then recommend them to their employers or clients - very often won’t pay; they will switch to something else first (especially in the Linux world. If you want to find people willing to throw away good money on crappy programs, go develop Apple software).

I see so many projects that just sort of rot on the vine because there’s no free version available (certain speech recognition software comes to mind). People won’t even touch it if they have to pay, and when someone does come along who’s willing to pay they find very little online support because the sort of folks who would gladly take it and experiment with it and poke and prod it, and then write how-tos and other documentation, won’t touch it if there’s an entrance fee. I know I’m getting just a bit off the original topic here, but my point is that in the Linux world people are used to getting free documentation and free software. A successful book will take you far beyond what the online documentation tells you, and with software it’s a bit more complicated but basically your commercial version should offer something that businesses will pay for without shutting down individual and non-commercial users. Just my opinion.

wtf - my message disappeared

I was saying in my response earlier - books are great, why stick with ebook, I like real books as well and they are great for the project.

Issue is - they typically translate to making less than minimum wage once you factor in the time you have put into writing them. The biggest benefit authors usually get it recognition and follow-up consulting business for their other activities.

Of course there is always training, whether the hardcore Asterisk training that Digium offers or the FreePBX/Asterisk/Telephony training that OTTS offers…

Might go outdated yes, might supply updates for $X or books would only cost $Y to begin with. I would buy a couple for the hell of it.

Oh well, like I said. Just a thought for some users that I have installed Asterisk for. I did not mean to stir up a hornets nest.
“Don’t you dare touch my free stuff”

While there is a high level of time commitment involved in creating a book, even an e-book, there is a certain market for it.

Yes, the freely available web-based documentation is available.

Yes, others have put a lot of time into the freely available documentation

However, there are folks who prefer “one-stop shopping” as it were. One comprehensive document that is formatted the same, all the way through.

Jaspersoft offers ebooks for their products (example: which you can buy once, or “subscribe” to in order to get updated versions a few times a year.

A well-done ebook could leap to a print-on-demand dead-tree book, too, which would sell for more.

As for giving credit where credit is due, and sharing the profits, well, if someone is simply editing and compiling the work of others, then fair credit should be given to everyone somewhere in the book. If the book focuses solely on FreePBX, then perhaps a portion of the proceeds from the sale should go back to the FreePBX project.

Would I, personally, buy a FreePBX book? Dunno. I’m not deep into FreePBX at this point. Sure, it would be nice to know what some of the “hidden” options are for some of the fields, but I understand that those are Asterisk options, not FreePBX options.

Given that FreePBX is fairly well documented within itself, the ebook may be more of a recipe book, giving ideas on how to string things together in a more comprehensive manner (for example Time Conditions and Time Groups).

Just my CAD$0.02.