Releasing the second edition of my Dropbox guide

A few months ago, the second edition of Dropbox In 30 Minutes was published. It’s one of our most popular guides in the In 30 Minutes series. In fact, some people mistakenly confuse it with Dropbox For Dummies. This post will get into the thinking behind the second edition of the guide, from content to production to marketing.

Dropbox on a mobile device

Dropbox In 30 Minutes was the first guide published in the In 30 Minutes series. Released in the summer of 2012, it quickly began to sell in channels such as Amazon and Apple’s iTunes store. The paperback edition, released in the fall of 2012, also was a hit. The first edition was downloaded or purchased as a paperback thousands of times over an 18 month period. It currently is listed as one of the top Software Utility guides on

Not long after making the title available, I recognized a problem: Certain information tended to quickly become outdated. While the core concept of Dropbox — software that helps you sync files between computers and mobile devices — has remained the same, specific aspects of the software have shifted. For instance, the Dropbox logo has had several noticeable tweaks in the past few years. Of a more practical concern for readers, the interface for mobile devices — iPhones, iPads, Android phones, etc. — has been completely overhauled. The desktop program for Windows PCs and Macs has also changed, albeit in a more restrained manner (for instance, right-clicking on a file brings up different options for sharing or manipulating the file in question).

For a while, I made incremental tweaks to the text of the guide and simply updated the content files for the ebook and paperback editions. But then I became aware of two additional issues that needed to be addressed:

  • The “publish date” for the guide, which was listed on the product pages on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Bowker’s ISBN database began to look old. For fiction books, “2012” is considered “new”, but in the world of how-to manuals for popular software programs, a two-year-old title starts to look a little long in the tooth.
  • Older versions of the paperback guide were being resold on Amazon. I don’t blame readers for doing this, but the problem is a reader in early 2014 purchasing a used edition from July 2012 would be getting a fair amount of outdated information. This resulted in understandable frustration.

The second edition of the Dropbox book hits the market

Because of this, I decided to issue a Dropbox In 30 Minutes, Second Edition. I hired a review editor to go through the original guide and flag bits which needed to be rewritten and have new screenshots. I also redid the annotated screenshots of the Dropbox mobile application, and added new sections relating to Camera Uploads, security, Dropbox for Business, and more. I’ll continue to do small tweaks as conditions warrant, but I already have my eye on Dropbox In 30 Minutes, 3rd Edition!

If you are interested in downloading or purchasing a copy of the guide, please see the options on this page.

Bowker’s deceptive ISBN practices

About Bowker's deceptive ISBN practices target new authorsEarlier this month on the In 30 Minutes corporate blog, I wrote a post about Bowker’s deceptive ISBN business targeting new authors. Bowker is a monopoly that controls the assignment of ISBNs in the United States. ISBNs are numbers used by the book industry to track the publication and distribution of printed books.

You might think that Bowker’s ISBN business is suffering because of the rise of ebooks, and the decline of print. Not so! Bowker states that the number of ISBN registrations has actually exploded in recent years, and even recorded nearly 13,000 ebooks printed by “small presses” (e.g., independent authors and small publishers) in 2011.

Hold on. Why do so many indie authors bother registering ISBNs with Bowker? Consider this: ISBNs are not necessary for ebooks — Amazon, iTunes, and other platforms that sell ebooks don’t require them. Further, Bowker rips off people buying small lots — as I described in the In 30 Minutes blog post, Bowker charges $125 for those buying a single ISBN! What do they get? A thirteen-digit number. They are so cheap to produce, that Canada gives away ISBNs to Canadian authors for free, and Bowker sells them for a dollar or less to publishers buying huge lots.

Why buy a Bowker ISBN if you are a new author?

The reason why thousands of small authors are buying ISBNs is because many don’t know any better — and Bowker aggressively markets to inexperienced authors’ fears and concerns. The company tells new authors:

Buy an ISBN for each format of your book (ISBNs may be used for either print or digital versions of your books)

At the same time, Laura Dawson, Bowker’s ISBN product manager, tells the publishing industry this:

If the author is selling direct from her own website, or solely through Amazon (which doesn’t require ISBNs), then no ISBN is necessary.

Sound like a two-faced scam? I certainly think so. Read my complete take here: Bowker’s 12,500% markup for new authors