I have a printed copy of the TeXbook (from D.E. Knuth) at home. Now that I travel a lot, I don't want to take my library with me every time. Question:

Is there a legal way to obtain (=purchase) a PDF version of the TeXbook?

I know that there are non-official PDFs flying around in the internet, but I would really like to buy it.

  • 8
    An item more useful than a travel guide :)
    – jub0bs
    Apr 26, 2013 at 8:09
  • 7
    Use \lstinputlisting{texbook.tex} and you will get a PDF version indirectly and legally. DEK just prevented us from texing texbook.tex but he does not prohibit us to import it into our main input file. :-) Apr 26, 2013 at 8:09
  • 12
    @Bugbusters; making a pdf version according to the texbook.tex file is not legal. If you look at ctan http://www.ctan.org/pkg/texbook it says: The source has pro­tec­tion against use to pro­duce a doc­u­ment: such use is only al­lowed with the per­mis­sion of the Copy­right holder and of the pub­lisher (Ad­di­son-Wes­ley).
    – Mythio
    Apr 26, 2013 at 8:13
  • 9
    @Bugbusters but that doesn't contain the nice drawing from Duane Bibby.
    – topskip
    Apr 26, 2013 at 8:13
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    @Bugbusters I would be very careful with such statements as they are most likely not true! Don has made the source available but under the clear understanding that it is not to be used for anything other than seeing an example (in source) on how the book was produced. There is the statement: "Permission for any other use of this file must be obtained in writing from the copyright holder and also from the publisher (Addison-Wesley)". Apr 26, 2013 at 13:53

3 Answers 3


AFAIK no. The only authority here is the publisher; please ask this question there, although I have not found an easy way to address that question on their website... :-(

Edit: I personally doubt that DEK is satisfied with the typography of ePubs (which is essentially XHTML & CSS) and would demand PDF - and since the publisher(s) would then probably require DRM (which I presume DEK detests the same as most of us), I consider ebooks of DEK's works unlikely. Also paper lasts longer than ebooks. :-)

  • 1
    My question was about PDF only. And I really wonder why (besides from the "no one will buy one" fear) the publisher doesn't prepare a PDF. I am afraid I have to accept your answer...
    – topskip
    Apr 27, 2013 at 15:58
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    Preventing even legal owners of a paper TeXbook from making a PDF is IMHO exactly that kind of DRM nonsense you think DEK detests.
    – mafp
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:08

Rather than the TeXbook, there are a number of legitimately available .pdfs which have similar content:

  • 2
    Thanks (+1)! I really should use these resources more often. But I always have the feeling that I miss "the finest detail in the behavior of TeX" when not reading the original TeXbook. Next time I'll look into these.
    – topskip
    Jun 28, 2013 at 6:24
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    There is also A Gentle Introduction to TeX by Michael Doob (texdoc gentle). May 7, 2017 at 1:08
  • TeX for the Impatient is great! Thanks.
    – vy32
    Dec 28, 2020 at 15:08

The publisher Pearson started selling the TeXbook as a watermarked PDF, so now you can finally buy an official version. A 30% discount code can be found on the TUG book page.

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