Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Would you pay for a third-party PDF manual?
A discussion at Mac Net Journal around the concept of paying a small amount for "full documentation for an application whose developer's don't currently offer a manual." (Interesting comments , but the economics of the hypothetical situation are perhaps the crux of the biscuit. That's beyond the scope of Usable Help, but do keep it mind.)
The somewhat positive reactions (so far) you'll see in the forum are telling in regards to the usability and practicality of the print-it-yourself PDF model. Typically, customers complain about having to print their own PDF files. Here, perhaps because of the low price, it doesn't seem to be a factor. Or, it's the third-party factor. When Microsoft doesn't give you a printed manual for Office, it seems cheap. When a freelancer writes their own book and distributes it directly, it's a populist effort and actual paper is no longer that important. Anyone remember the old "underground" newsletter called "TAP"? Very low production value, highly-regarded information source. Is there a hint here for documentation professionals?