Internet Promotes Book Publishing
As guides to the Net flourish, publishers push electronic data into print
Far from putting the print industry out of business, the Internet, with tons of on-line electronic information, is generating tons of books and magazines.
One of the clearest signs of this trend is the recent publication of a new book, ''Yahoo! Unplugged, Your Discovery Guide to the Web,'' just released by IDG Books of Foster City, California, the largest publisher of computer-related books in the world.
The World Wide Web is the graphics-capable part of the Internet (also called the Net). In April 1994, two Stanford University electrical-engineering graduate students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, created the Yahoo! on-line guide to the Web, and it quickly became a sensation in the on-line world.
The new Yahoo book takes that electronic road map and puts it on paper.
Mr. Yang, known affectionately as Chief Yahoo Yang, says, ''I had my doubts at first'' about the idea of putting Yahoo in a book. ''But [IDG Books publisher David Ushijima] convinced me that it would be useful to people who need help finding their way around the Net and also to those who want to get onto the Net.'' Yang was interviewed at Internet World 95, a Boston conference on the Internet.
Yang and Mr. Filo are on a leave of absence from their studies to found Yahoo! Corporation. Both are under 30, have been discovered by venture capital firms, and are busy creating alliances in the business of the Internet.
Their book contains a CD-ROM with a full electronic copy of the book and a program allowing users to log onto the Internet, through a choice of five Internet service providers.
David Ushijima, vice president and publisher of IDG Books Online, says, ''Putting the Yahoo guide in book form this month signals again that print has a key role to play today in the development of the Internet.'' He was also interviewed at the Boston conference.
Jeffrey Dearth, chief operating officer of Mecklermedia Corp.'s Magazine/iWorld Group in Westport, Conn., offers another perspective. ''The record industry thought radio would put them out of business, and radio thought TV would put them out of business. The Net won't put publishers out of business, either,'' he says. ''Each media finds its own niche.'' Mecklermedia sponsors Internet conferences worldwide and was the sponsor of the recent Boston conference. The company also publishes some of the leading magazines on the Internet, the latest being Web Developer, a technical journal for individuals and businesses specializing in building the electronic Web sites sprouting on the Net.
It is easier to read books and newspapers as books and newspapers, rather than on a screen, Mr. Dearth says, expressing an opinion widely shared in his industry.
Dearth, a specialist in evaluating whether an Internet-based publication has a market in print and vice versa, notes: ''Newspapers and magazines going on-line will find that electronic exposure will almost always push up their print circulation.'' This comes from an executive with a company that is essentially an Internet company, although it has highly successful publications.
Taking a more critical tack, Peter Salus, who reviews computer and Internet books for several specialized publications, points to five publishers who were at the Boston Internet conference: ''A lot of the stuff they publish is junk,'' he says. ''But who knows that? It's all so new that anything saying 'Internet' stands a chance of selling and making money.''
Four years ago, Dr. Salus says, there was hardly anything available in print about the Internet. Now he receives up to 90 books a month on the Internet alone. ''I just put them in bins and donate them to schools and other places,'' he says.
* The on-line edition of ''Yahoo! Unplugged'' can be found at http://www.idgbooks.com.