I’m really excited about Apple’s recent entry into the textbook and publishing space and the impact I think it will have on technical publishing. I’m also really excited about the pending release of SQL Server 2012. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to discuss this month, so I hope you don’t mind that I blended two topics together.

Ross Mistry (@RossMistry) and Stacia Misner (@StaciaMisner) are two of my favorite SQL Server experts and authors. Microsoft asked them to write a free SQL Server 2012 eBook, and the first few chapters were published last October. You can find that initial draft here "Free ebook: Introducing Microsoft SQL Server Code Name “Denali” (DRAFT Preview)." Ross and Stacia are ready to release a more complete draft of the book on February 1, with the final version available in mid-March. You can read about the release schedule for this book in the blog post "Release schedule for our free Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 ebook."

Of course, mid-March ties in with the SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch Event on March 7. I’m hopeful the virtual event content will be available for streaming on demand at a later date, but who wants to wait? Sign up for the event now.

Now on to some high-level thoughts I have on e-publishing. Unless a traditional publisher is willing to pay you a nice fat royalty check upfront, I think authors are silly for using a traditional publisher to get their books to market. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever buy a technical book again unless it comes in an e-format, and there will need to be an awfully good reason for me to pay anything for it.

Remember what Apple did for the smartphone market? Let’s not argue who has the best mobile platform today. We should all be able to admit the smartphone and app ecosystem as we know it today, across all platforms, was brought to market by Apple’s innovation. Apple’s new iBooks 2 publishing ecosystem will do the same thing for textbooks, and it seem to me that technical books on topics such as SQL Server are nothing more than a textbook by another name.

Imagine a modern technical book that’s always up-to-date, integrates rich media in a compelling and useful manner, and can link to other relevant online content. I think it will take at least a year or two, if not longer, before the SQL Server publishing crowd adopts this new publishing format, but it’s only a matter of time. Consumers will demand it.

And before you know it, Apple’s iBooks 2 will have a profound impact on what in-person conferences and live training looks like. Conferences are cool for networking, and who doesn’t love a free party, but be honest: Would you rather watch what we think of as a conference session in person, scrambling to take notes and scrunched into a corner in an overflow room, or would you rather watch your session from the comfort of your easy chair at home? Even better, maybe you’ve already watched the session via iBooks 2 prior to showing up at the conference and your time with the presenter is a bit more of a Q&A experience rather than a traditional lecture. This is a model of learning that’s been popularized by the KhanAcademy.org, which has a TED Talk that I know has become popular in SQL Server circles. Look a few years out and imagine what the conference space looks like. I could be wrong, but I think it looks incredibly different.

What do you think?