The LaTeX Companion ebook

Yesterday, I was going back home from a long journey in São Paulo. While waiting for the metro to take me to the bus station, I decided to revist a good ol’ companion, but this time, the encounter was about to happen outside the physical media: The LaTeX Companion as an ebook.


When I started using LaTeX, I was totally lost. What to do, what to read? Apparently, I should read The TeXbook — Don’s awesome book — but I was not really prepared for it (years later I’m still stuck somewhere in the middle of it, without seeing the light). But let us not forget one of Frank Mittelbach and friends’ magum opus: The LaTeX Companion.  Surprinsingly, the word Companion really suits the occasion and plays an important role: the book will be your friend, your companion, it will guide you through the typographic land. Ah, The LaTeX Companion is usually referred tenderly as TLC.

At the risk of being heretic, in my humble opinion this is the Holy TeX Trinity for me: The TeXbook, The LaTeX Companion and TeX by Topic. My favourite, of course, is TLC for obvious reasons: it saved me a lot of times. It was really a friend, a companion.


I must confess I also have The LaTeX3 interfaces printed, but that’s another story… and probably another blog post.


In October 2013, Frank made an earthshaking announcement in the The LaTeX Companion as an ebook thread in our community, and I quote verbatim:

I’m happy to announce that there is finally an eBook version of “The LaTeX Companion, 2ed” available. It was a rather challenging exercise due to the many examples in the book and the need to reproduce the example output faithfully on that media. Originally we thought that anything other than plain PDF is not going to be possible; however as it turned out both ePub and mobi (Kindle) came out surprisingly well. (Frank Mittelbach)


As much as I love my TLC copy, it’s quite complicated to carry that big book around. Frank kindly provided me a copy of the ebook format, and as soon as I had the opportunity, the file was already in my tablet, ready for the TeX fun to start all over again. Let’s take a look at the TLC on my iPad – first, the ePub version:


Let’s see some sample pages – of course, this is copyrighted material.

The cover:


About the ebook:


Table of contents:


Sample page:


Another sample page:


Now let’s take a look at the PDF version.

The cover:


The table of contents:


Of course, David has to appear in this blog post:



That’s it.


In my humble opinion, all available formats (ePub, Mobi and PDF) are great and handle different situations. I’m more of a PDF fan, but I can clearly see the benefits of the other ebook formats. The book looks gorgeous specially on a high resolution tablet display.

Now, let’s talk about the interesting part. The book is offered as a bundle with three formats (ePub, Mobi and PDF) on InformIT for $23.99. This is probably the best deal one can get, especially as there are no DRM applied (only a watermark, you probably saw my name on the pages, and that’s all).

In addition, there is a special promotion price (really intended for those who already have the book, but effectively it can be used by anybody). This offer is valid until December 31, 2013 and will reduce the price to $16.99. Let’s hear David:

I could do a review: It’s brilliant: buy it now, send extra donations to the authors! vim not mentioned! (David Carlisle)

David is absolutely right, except of course for the vim part.


To apply the special promotion price, one needs to add the following code during the checkout processing on InformIT:


 (case sensitive, please!).

Here’s the link to LaTeX Companion 2ed (ebook formats) icon.


Thank you very much, Frank! Vielen Dank!

Update 4: Friends, it’s important to note that while Pearson is not adding any DRM, som resellers may do so, and that makes, for example, the PDF become really unusable.

Update 3: Everything is working fine now. Yay!


Update 2: Friends, now it seems we have a problem with the price + discount. I poked Frank about it. More news yet to come.


Update 1: Friends, apparently the discount code is not working. I contacted Frank about it and hopefully this issue will be fixed as soon as possible. I’ll update this blog post accordingly.


14 thoughts

  1. Something’s not quite right with the discount code.

    Applying the


    code to the order appears to actually increase the amount I need to pay. From the list-price of 29.99 it is already discounted to 23.99 on the website. But using the promo code it wants to now charge me 24.49. (The original discount price is voided, it seems.)

    Also, the offer sppears to be only valid until October 31, not December 31 as described in the post.

  2. More on the inconsistency on the pricing. Without entering a discount code, there’s a 20% discount (apparently for being a registered user). Upon entering the LATEXT2013 discount code, the 20% discount is voided and a 15% discount is applied instead, bringing the price to $25.49. Interestingly, the info on the code says something quite different: Discount Code: LATEXT2013, Description: Get The LaTex Companion for $14.99. Expires: Thursday, October 31, 2013. This says the price should be as low as $14.99, but that’s not what’s in the shopping cart.

  3. Good to hear that this is now resolved. By mistake they applied 15% reduction not $15 off which gives 29.99-15=14.99. And does the code claim to work now until end of December?

    1. I think the code still claims to only work until end of October.

      Thanks for the great book! (I am however a bit shocked by the size disparity between the ePub and PDF versions: the former is ~120 megabytes while the latter is under 20. (And the mobi file for the Kindle is a monstrous 200+!)

  4. Please, please do an interview about the production process! How did you get the book to look at all decent on Kindle? Is it just JPGs or does Kindle have some actual ability to make nice looking books???

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