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Ed Bott

Ed Bott, the independent writer known for his books and blog posts on Microsoft Windows, is one of the founders of a new company aiming for a sweet spot between blogging and print publishing — releasing digital titles that combine the speed and flexibility of the online world with the careful research, writing and editing of traditional computer books.

Bott is founding author and partner in the new company, Fair Trade Digital Exchange (Fair Trade DX), along with agent Claudette Moore and publisher Chris Williams.

His new Windows book, Ed Bott’s Windows 8 Head Start, is one of the launch titles for the company, and an example of its publishing model. The 100-page e-book, based on the Windows 8 Developer Preview, will be updated and expanded after the Windows 8 beta comes out and then again when Windows 8 is released in finished form.

Bott said via phone that the company resulted in part from the founders’ frustration with the way traditional publishers have been handling computer books in recent years.

“We decided to stop being frustrated about it and actually do something,” he said. “The thing that we’re doing that’s different from traditional publishers is we’re digital first, which means that we can be fast, very agile. We can do short books, we can do modular books. We can do all sorts of projects that a traditional publisher wouldn’t even consider because they’re just not big enough to fit into their model.”

Another difference: The company will be splitting net revenue from digital titles 50-50 with authors. Bott said he believes the traditional 85 or 90 percent share taken by book publishers isn’t fair, particularly when it comes to digital books.

To traditional e-book publishers, Bott would say, “You’re not printing it, you’re not distributing it, there’s no possibility these are going to be returned to you. Those percentages should be adjusted.”

Fair Trade DX books will be available for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, iOS and in PDF and EPUB formats. None of the book files will come with digital rights management protections, which Bott described as another core principle of the company.

In general, new editions of each book will require an additional purchase, but even for someone who buys every edition, Bott said he expects the cumulative price to be less than that of an equivalent title from a traditional publisher. Ed Bott’s Windows 8 Head Start sells for $9.95, and people who register on the Fair Trade DX site will get 50 percent off on a subsequent edition.

Bott will continue writing his ZDNet blog. See this post on his personal blog for more on Fair Trade DX.

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