Simon Willison’s Weblog


Wrox and glasshaus go under

16th March 2003

It looks like there’s a shakedown going on in technical book publishing land. Glasshaus are no more, and (so far unsubstantiated) rumours are flying round that Wrox are going bust / have gone bust as well.

I’ve got a few Wrox books lying around but I have to admit I never liked them nearly as much as my O’Reilly collection (although Beginning Java 2 is still the book I recommend to anyone who wants to learn that language). I’ve heard they are very good for ASP and .NET related content though. If Wrox really have gone under it will have a pretty dramatic impact on the amount and variety of my local tech bookshops (not too mention a lot less red). My only experience with glasshaus has been their Cascading Style Sheets book, which is absolutely excellent. In fact, if you have any interest in CSS and haven’t picked up a copy yet I suggest doing so now before it becomes too rare a commodity. I’ve got my eye on a few other glasshaus titles though—their policy of covering “leading edge” web techniques (Accessibility, Usability, CSS, Web Database design) made them an interesting small scale publisher—plus they also seemed to hire a lot of their authors from mailing lists I occasionally frequent such as Evolt and Webdesign-L.

I wonder what happens to the copyright of a book once the publisher goes under? Does it end up in some kind of limbo, eternally awaiting the day when someone “buys” it from the liquidator or does ownership revert back to the author? If the latter is true, we may see other authors following the lead of Frederick Lundh in publishing their work online and/or charging a small fee for a downloadable version.

Incidentally, a search for wrox on Scott Johnson’s Feedster is currently a great way of seeing what people are saying. It’s a shame Feedster doesn’t support some kind of permalink-to-these-search-results feature for letting bloggers link to the search results as a useful overview of the blogosphere’s opinion on something on a specific date.

This is Wrox and glasshaus go under by Simon Willison, posted on 16th March 2003.

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