After dealing with numerous problems from PenFlip (where our free ebooks are currently located), we’ve decided to try two new hosting providers: GitBook and LeanPub.
Both of these are, or can be, based on Git/GitHub, which means the Markdown text of the book will always be open-sourced and available. Both offer conversion into PDF, MOBI, and EPUB formats, so you can download whichever you want. Both enable us to update the books at any time. Both are relatively easy to use; GitBook provides a moderately better writing experience since they provide a native app that kind of hides the Git-i-ness, but it’s not a huge deal. More or less the same thing could be assembled for LeanPub if we wanted.
They do their formatting slightly differently, so it’s worth looking at each to see which you like better. We don’t have a ton of control over their formatting, so what you see in these tests is what you get.
LeanPub offers two key differences:
- While we can and will continue to make the books available for free, we can also suggest a purchase price, and then actually let readers set a purchase price. This would enable donations to DevOpsCollective.org.
- Readers who “buy” the book (even for free) can register to receive email updates when a new version is produced. This _does_ mean you have to register using an e-mail address to download any book, even if you’re not paying for it. We know some people get twitchy about providing contact info.
We’re going to use one of these new solutions, and we’d like your feedback. Try them both, if you can – we’ve converted Creating HTML Reports in PowerShell over to both so that you can do a side-by-side comparison and see how they produce their various formats. Provide any feedback in the comments, below!
UPDATE: At least two folks have found that they can’t access GitBook from their corporate network, which is concerning. Please indicate in the comments if that’s a problem for you, too.
UPDATE: We’re playing with GitHub. Both GitBook and LeanPub support it, and we’re thinking we may be able to publish to both locations automagically, so people can choose the one that they like best. It looks like LeanPub will only generate a “Preview” when we push to GitHub, and we have to go in and manually “Publish” that latest version, but there may be a way to automate that.