What would you pay for a book on “Advanced WordPress” ?

This post is for people who work with WordPress: themers, WordPress coders and consultants, and anyone who wants to do things more advanced than installing plugins with WordPress. If you’re not in this market, be on your way, this poll doesn’t apply to you!

If you’re still here… I’ve been considering writing a book on “Advanced WordPress.” The market in mind is all of the themers, coders, consultants, and intrepid blog tweakers who may know a bit of PHP (or a lot), and want to go beyond the basics with WordPress. There are a lot of books that cover WordPress basics, but not a lot aimed at more advanced uses of WordPress. A sample of the topics covered would be:

  • Plugins
  • Hooks
  • Advanced WordPress administration and automation
  • Themes
  • Advanced theme tricks

It would be part reference, part walkthrough.

If this book were available, and you are in the market described above, how much (if anything) would you be willing to pay for such a book?

Thanks for your participation!

77 thoughts on “What would you pay for a book on “Advanced WordPress” ?

  1. Would like to pay $20-$30 as most of the things which you wish to learn on WordPress can be found on WWW.

    The content in this book should assure the readers how to tweak the inner intricacies of the 2.7 package to benefit to a maximum extent.

    Would love to review the book, if you have already prepared a draft. You can send it to me for a review.:-)

    Thanks.

  2. Hi Mark,

    I responded to your poll with the greatest amount. Such a book would be excellent value to me as I am just now starting to delve into the inner workings of the WP machine.

    My only concern would be that the day you publish such a book that the information would be already outdated.

    Although some sections would remain relevant for many versions of WP to come – I believe that if you intend to write such a book that it would need to come with some added value features. Eg: a members only section website that provides updates as newer versions of PHP or WP are released.

    Good stuff!!

    R

    NB: All the way from Papua New Guinea !!

  3. I would also pay $20-30 to get all the hacks in one place. But keeping it updated with repeated new WP versions would be an issue.

  4. I would like to pay $20-30 but with most books this price generally sits at $40-50 range.

    The problem for me would be updates and the availability of this information on google and other search engine.

  5. Greg says:

    Depends on how much information is in the book. If it’s the length of a “Dummies” book, I’d pay about that much. If it has more content, reference, and tutorials than a standard computer book, I’d pay more.

  6. Considering that most of that information is available for free somewhere on the internet, the only advantage this book would have is in its convenience that all the information is in one spot, so I chose the 10-20 range.

    I guess you are thinking of writing this as an e-book? Why not go the other direction and offer it for free, but get sponsors for it. The way WP is developing you’d have to update that book quite a lot and every new version could have new sponsors. Just my two cent…

  7. I’ve updated the poll to show result percentages (give it 10 minutes to update).

    I think it would probably be around the length of a typical “Dummies” book. I have no desire to write an 800 page behemoth.

    As for updating, I might offer a discount or a free PDF download for future editions.

    I’m considering self-publishing, so my turnaround time would be a lot faster than with traditional publishing (and even more so since I have direct knowledge of what changes are going into WordPress before or as they go in).

  8. Interesting idea Boris. That could also work in conjunction with selling a paper book. Pay for the physical copy if you want it, or get the ad-supported e-book free (or cheap).

  9. Seeing your comment above, I do hope your version will be somewhat different from the already existing ‘WordPress for Dummies’ by Lisa Sabin-Wilson. The sample topics you propose already seem quite adequate for a book on “Advanced WordPress”. But what I would like to see, and would be willing to pay for, is a book that contains more challenging ideas as well. Some tips and tricks that are still ‘off the map’, and that grey area of WordPress development. Something we haven’t already seen before.

    As for the price, between $10 and $30 would seem fair if you’re not planning on writing a behemoth.

  10. ericdano says:

    Nothing, because as soon as it is published, it will be out of date. Slashdot guys had a book out about their system, and when it came out, it was already out of date due to, at the time, development schedule they had.

    WordPress has the same problem.

  11. I’m not sure, right now I just use the wordpress.org site to find details about the hooks, etc, which works just fine for me. Then again, if everyone followed that idea, no one would ever write a book on java, etc..🙂 So go for it🙂

  12. callmecrazy2 says:

    I’d say between $10-$20 because as someone said, most information would is readily available online if you really hunt for the information.

    Maybe $20 and offer unlimited updates for an extra $5 or something, if your looking into that route. That way you can keep people in the loop as the PHP / WP engines will constantly change.

    Would this be offered as an eBook, or an actual book?

  13. I would agree with QOT,

    people might buy it for the first time but if you would like to have consistent sale it should keep upgrading.

    Ruling out the old ones and adding new ones.

    Ashish

  14. Glad you mentioned the PDF option, as I was going to say that books are nice — however, they are not searchable, unlike an electronic document. Without that power, it’s useful only as an introduction, not as a reference.

  15. Actually sounds really good, would be very interested in ‘advanced automation’ were you thinking of automation of posting from cvs files and rss feeds or automation of tasks in the admin area? Let us know when its out as a lot of our customers would be very interested.

  16. RonBme says:

    I would think this should include css styling, which would not be outdated so quickly.

    Also you might want to include something about working with WordPress on LAMP and WAMP.

    I agree with most of the comments on the $10-30 range.

    An ebook would be nice but a paper book would better for me when I am away from the computer.

  17. Another possibility that would avoid the problem of becoming outdated would be to create a documentation website which talked about advanced WP development, but which could be updated to reflect newer versions of WP. A project like this could still be monotonized by charging either a one time access fee or a small monthly/yearly membership fee.

    Of course if someone were to do this, the information would have to be really top notch. Otherwise people could just use the advanced instructions in the Codex rather than pay for the information.

  18. I don’t agree that a book would be pointless because it would get out of date quick. The key would be to make it complement the information (and style of information) available on wordpress.org and via Google.

    A book like this would be invaluable for someone like me who doesn’t need hand-holding regarding general web & coding concepts but is a little bewildered getting oriented under WordPress’s hood.

    Part of the problem is that online documentation for WP hooks and functions is frustratingly incomplete. Obviously the web is the best place for this type of info – hopefully it’ll improve soon. But a book to outline WP’s basic architecture, detail best practices for creating plugins and themes, walking through useful case studies, documenting some of the more vital hooks & functions, going through common tricks, more advanced techniques, etc. – this would be fantastic.

    Coming up with a good combination of print and PDF versions would be great too. Offer free PDF with print version, a cheaper PDF-only version, and free PDF or online updates until a new print version comes around?

    Good luck if you go for it!

  19. I reckon more advanced WordPress, like hooks etc., don’t really go out of date as quickly the Dummies books do, as less of these sort of things are changed from version to version.

    I would definitely buy a book if it collected a lot of the resources I would usually use into one place, but I’d probably be more likely to buy a pdf than printed version. If I compare it to my Sitepoint book buys (where I often buy both print and pdf version), I only ever use the pdf as it is more portable than a weighty book.

    Maybe, once you’d published your book, you could clean up some of the more confusing areas of the WordPress Codex🙂

  20. I’d pay >$30 for such a book (I did the poll), especially if it covered the new 2.7 comment features such as callbacks.

    Get Starched Press to publish it🙂

    I often prefer to be able to reach for a reference book versus “Geez, what was the Google query again…?”

  21. Wrong question! Let the publisher worry about setting the price. That is their role, and they have a far better data set of prices v. sales than you do.

    At this point, you should focus defining the content so that the book hits the core of your audience — not too advanced, not too easy.

    Fred Zimmerman
    Publisher, Nimble Books LLC

  22. The joy of WordPress is that you can find out virtually everything you need to know from forum, blogs, websites, and general tinkering … I wouldn’t even contemplate buying a book. Sorry!

  23. Jacob Santos says:

    The problem would then become that advanced techniques would not be acceptable to be on the Codex. Any documentation that is added to the Codex after or while you are writing your book can then be challenged as copyright infringement even if the author him- or herself wrote it specifically for the Codex.

    No, there are too many problems already of documentation existing in the realm of copyright and therefore not being able to be placed on the centralized location called the “Codex”.

  24. I answered at the lowest level, because as several people have already noted, the information would be out of date almost as soon as it was published. But, even then, it would depend on what was in the book. If it focused on things like plugins and advanced theme features and tricks, I might still be willing to get the book. Especially, if there were some future-proofing to it, like a secret mailing list to sign up for to get PDF updates or something.
    I already bought WordPress for Dummies and WordPress Theme Design, so I’m not in a hurry to shell out more for those topics unless it’s really worth it.

  25. I said 20-30 bucks on the poll, but it has depend on the size of the book.

    I think it would be a nice book to have even if the info will change a ton over the years.

  26. Would certainly consider paying for some of the proposed topics in a book form but not the rest such as Plugins, since they are such part and parcel of WordPress.

    Instead of a book … would you consider a reference book in a notepad-like form in a ring binder? Then it would be a really handy guide for Hooks and references and other tricks – the number of times I’ve had to get a massive paper weight just to weigh down a reference book can get frustrating – and it could also then have handy little tabs at the side for the relevant topic.

  27. I also said $20-30 on the poll, but in the end it really depends on the content. How up-to-date it is, what format it is in (PDF would be nice as it can be updated frequently), but most importantly if it really covers advanced topics. So I guess a preview would be a good thing. One that lets users evaluate if this book is what it promises to be.

    One can probably learn all there is online, but it takes time to find what you are looking for and if the book really delivers what it promises it will be worth its price and beyond. If you are working on a client project and the client has a certain request that’s not addressed by WP itself or any plugin you can find a good reference would save time and aggravation.

  28. Hi Mark,Happy New Year to you and your family.Pierrette and I think that all things on wordpress are worth a fortune.How do you put a price on the best?We would be nothing without the use of this tremendous tool.Good luck and all the best in the New Year.Pierre for the “THEE QUEST” team on wordpress of Pierre & Pierrette.

  29. It seems that a goal of this book would be to “separate the men from the boys” in terms of WordPress developers – providing a resource for the ninjas.

    Rather than putting the effort and expense into a book just for ninjas, I would suggest updating the WordPress Codex with rating structure – info and techniques for beginning, intermediate, advanced WordPress users.

    Then everyone could easily find help suited to their skill level, with the added benefit of not having to reprint every quarter🙂

    I think I am opposed to a “members only” resource filled with “the advanced stuff” because I think that defeats the purpose of open source.

  30. I answered $20-30, although I’d pay almost whatever you’d charge if it would help me create my own (advanced) theme(s).🙂

    Seriously, I’ve been wanting to develop my own theme but the resources/guides on the Web are scattered here and there; I’d think that a more centralized resource could be helpful for me.

  31. I agreed with several of the responses on here about it being an e-book rather than traditional paperback. Since it would be updated, or needs to be at least, rather frequently when major code changes are introduced, having an updated e-version available for people who already have the original would be more likely to make me want to get one. $10-$20 for an e-book is quite reasonable considering the lack of physical requirements.

  32. Mental Pez says:

    I would be very interested to see a book like this. I’m a semi-pro WP developer and this kind of guide could be very useful to me.

    Like a few others have said, I’m also concerned that the information in a printed book would become outdated too quickly. I’m sure it must take a least a month to go from finished manuscript to store shelves, and then of course there’s the time it takes you to actually write the thing. Any dead tree book could be obsolete too quickly to be worth anything to me.

    Conversely, I don’t think reference works are worth much in an e-book format. If I’m reading it on my PC, it’s not terribly different from similar resources I can find for free by the score online anyway.

    Whether or not I’d buy this book (dead tree or digital) would probably come down to what information you provide and how you organize and present that information. How much of it will be relevant a year from now? Does it provide information more accurately or accessibly than free resources?

    I’m interested to see how this pans out for you. If you’ll have any kind of focus group or test readers or something similar, I’d love to participate and give you my feedback.

  33. I put in my 2 cents worth in the voting, but here’s my explanation.

    I wouldn’t pay anything for a book, but I’ve been using WordPress for over 5 years so I’ve been able to work with it, tweak it, and really learn the ins and outs.

    On the flip side, if I were to buy a book on another CMS, say Drupal or Joomla, which I dont know, I would probably be willing to spend $30 if it really taught me everything I needed to know about the CMS. Personally, I would want to know about the theming options since that’s an integral part of a site — and I’ve found it to be quite difficult in both Joomla and Drupal, but very easy with WordPress.

    Just my 2 cents, wanted to spread them across teh interwebz.

  34. The codex is incomplete & difficult to search, so a book would be great.

    If you self-publish please be sure to seek out a decent editor. I wince every time I read self-published stuff that has really terrible grammar and spelling.

  35. I think an advanced WP book is a great idea. I have no interest in building themes from scratch, as there are so many terrific ones out there, but I’d like to learn how to “get under the hood” to tweak themes to better suit my needs. I like the idea of a ringed notebook — although a pdf is great, I like to have a reference at my fingertips while I work. Perhaps pdf updates could be available to download and add to the notebook as needed. The WP books that are currently on the market are fine for beginners, but a book that takes things to the next level would be welcome. I say, go for it!

  36. If you self-publish please be sure to seek out a decent editor. I wince every time I read self-published stuff that has really terrible grammar and spelling.

    Since launching a blog that mocks people for their spelling and grammar, I’ve been trying to be more careful about that.🙂 I even have a shirt that says “Bad grammar makes me [sic]” — har har.

    I think I am opposed to a “members only” resource filled with “the advanced stuff” because I think that defeats the purpose of open source.

    The code snippets in the book would likely be GPL, and while copyright would prevent people from copy-pasting the book into the Codex, ideas aren’t copyrightable, and could be paraphrased into the Codex without objection from me.

    I don’t think it’s contrary to the idea of Open Source to publish copyrighted books about Open Source software, as long as the code snippets are appropriately licensed.

  37. As such books are usual I would be prepared to pay a reasonable amount for it. The thing is though as book related to the internet date quite rapidly it wouldn’t make sense to pay a lot.

  38. I’m learning to work on WordPress themes and plugins, and I find it heavy sledding since it’s been 30 years since I did any structured programming. (I know, WP isn’t the same as FORTRAN; but some concepts are recognizable.)

    I would dearly love to see a book that explains the tips and tricks that would make my learning faster and less frustrating. Please include me in any alerts you send concerning the release of such a fine volume…

  39. Of course spelling and grammar is important but the most is the pedagogic style and how to present each item.

    A paper book is good but when you’re living on the other side of the planet the shipping cost is higher than the book itself !

    That’s why I’m more for an ebook than we can download and that can be upgraded regurlarly.

    Another way (the best of all) is to make a private website (or blog with WP) with password for members who paid for that. Like that, informations are easy to access and always up-to-date. (**)

    To pay 50$ a year for membership would be better for the author than few bucks at once…

    So When do you start, I’m a starved WP admin….

    (**) Codex is good but rarely up do date with last version of WP. So when we have few new bugs we don’t find really any help !

    (***) What is really missing, is the real changes in each new version of WP. When we find something it’s already too late because a new version arrived…

    (****) I’m not sure but I think that they would be more foreigners using WP than native english speaking people. So please write as simply as possible with the minimum of vocabulary. Thank’s !

  40. Some of my readers were dissapointed that there wasn’t more “Advanced WordPress” coverage in the Dummies book. Dummies books are meant for the true novice – so, advanced topics don’t really belong there.

    Things like programming and plugin development require a certain level of geekdom that (most) readers of the Dummies series do not have.

    I’d buy it🙂 And coming from you, Mark – I chose the $40 or more option in the poll.🙂

  41. The hard part with picking up a book on WordPress is that the codex and changes are so constant that your book would be outdated before it was published.

  42. RE: LAURENT DUREAU’s post

    “To pay 50$ a year for membership would be better for the author than few bucks at once…”

    This would be a better solution IMO. However, it begs the question as to why a community authored wiki would not be the way to go.

  43. I can see that the material would be worth selling- and I mean that.
    but…
    -I can find nearly everything I need in the codex, google searches, and chatroom.
    – I wonder if something like this would draw ppl/ volunteers away from the wp forums?
    – an in-depth wiki-type thing, like codex on steroids, would be uber helpful (and I think very popular – thus easy to find sponsorship for)

    I’ve suggested this a couple times in the chatroom, that we need someone to give us an advanced codex. I’d look at ads for that. heck, half of us would probably click on job boards, and the like. Think Problogger for WP.

    Good luck!

  44. First off, don’t worry about the people who won’t buy your book because everything is already on the web. They don’t buy anything for this reason.

    What an established author/expert brings to a good book that the web does not yet (if ever) provide is a common voice, a consistent level of competence and completeness, and an organization and structure that facilitate learning.

    WordPress is big, and the breadth of themes and plugins makes it abundantly clear that blog owners want to make their blogs their own. There will be more than enough customers for your book if it’s good enough. Publishers sell innumerable IT related titles in the $20 – $40 range proving that a price in that range isn’t too steep.

    Since you are thinking about pricing I assume you will be publishing the book yourself. This is a huge undertaking unless you go the ebook route. I suggest using an established publisher of IT books if you want to sell hard copies.

    For the author, the real money is in ebooks. There are many good ideas in previous comments about this, including many on offering updates that don’t work in the hard copy market. The biggest problem with ebooks is that the user has to buy a pig in a poke. With hard copy they can take their time browsing the book in their favorite bookstore to decide if it’s for them, but not so with ebooks.

    You can take the Sitepoint approach and give away a chapter or two. Another approach is to give a money back guarantee. In the ebook only world this is a very common approach because people who intend to rip you off will just pirate your ebook anyway. I would bet that a money back guarantee in conjunction with a membership only website for updates/extensions offers the the best marketing package for a self published ebook. It also gives you plenty of opportunity to put out additional posts talking about your updates and driving more traffic to your promotion site.

    As has been made clear by many others, your competition isn’t Lisa’s WordPress for Dummies, or Hasin Hayder’s WordPress Complete, it’s Tessa Blakeley Silver’s WordPress Theme Design. There’s plenty of room for the right book, if you can write it.

    If you have a draft I’d be willing to look it over.

    Best of luck with your project should you choose to go forward.

  45. Yes, was considering the self-publishing (say, with LuLu) route, the e-book route, or both. A large percentage of you are concerned about the material falling out of date. Making it an e-book, with a “membership” that’d provide updates seems like a great solution to this. Thanks to everyone who suggested that! And thanks to everyone who has offered to be in a focus group or go over a draft. I really appreciate all the support.

    John Biddle, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  46. Personally I think we need something done along the lines of the Subversion book.

    An open source WordPress book which is available online in HTML form or DocBook source and also available in the store in DeadTree ™ if thats what you want.

    Not that I would be likely to buy the book myself😉

  47. Would love such a book – I have to spend too much time hunting down solutions, and I love wordpress for ease of use.

    How about mailing me when you get it done?

  48. I would pay $40+ for the book if WordPress stabilized to one major upgrade per year. I agree with free updates until the new print version is released.

    Although I am not against constant improvement of a product, a stable and secure product that has major upgrades once a year would be good.

    I am sure the plugin and theme developers would agree with me on this “single major upgrade in a year” concept.

  49. It’s true that you can find everything you need to know on the Internet but I still like books better. I would pay $20-$30 for one.

  50. I’d prefer something along the lines of a subscription based website – with whatever articles etc you’d putting in your book nicely arranged online. It’s mean people could use the examples you’d write much more easily, it’s be a wonderful resource of advanced tips etc all in one nicely organised place, and it’s still make you some money!🙂

    Or if not a subscription based site, a site you need to pay say $2 to read an individual article, $10 to access all articles in a section or $30 for the whole lot – something like that?

    I just think it’s a format that’d work much better than a book and would probably be accessed by many, many more people?

  51. Chris says:

    Hi – if you publish the book please, please, please make sure it goes well over and above what’s out there and is focused on developers that need answers to complex problems. There is definitely a lack of high quality information that deals with highly customizing wordpress. Just my 2 cents…

  52. You might as well, it seems there is a need for it. I think. Remember, you have to eat too. It’s senseless to give things away for free all the time.

  53. I would be interested in an on-going web-based subscription that would keep up with new releases. Although the WP Codex database is quite nice, it could use improvements, and that is something I’d be willing to pay for. Maybe $5-15 per month depending on quality.

  54. Hi Mark….I ran into your blog a day or two ago and really didn’t know who you were…feel a bit foolish for that. Now that I know…because of your position with wordpress, the info you share would be invaluable!

    If you need a web graphic of the book cover, I’d be glad to do it for you….just drop me a line, I can show you some covers I’ve done.

    Good luck,

    Scott

  55. I’d say less than $20 because as someone said, most information would is readily available free online. But think paying for a book confirms its a quality resource as some internet stuff maybe dodgey. Did u write it yet?..

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