Paying to be a beta tester?

Sometimes one is left to wonder when an idea actually sounded good. One such service is O'Reilly's Rough Cuts. Through this service you can pay to get a book early. It seems though they really are asking customers to pay for the privilege of being editors:

Once you've purchased a Rough Cuts title, you have a chance to shape the final product - you can send suggestions, bug fixes, and comments directly to the author and editors.

There are businesses that have chosen to release beta software under the guise of marketable software and unwittingly turn would-be customers into beta testers. At the very least O'Reilly's program is up front about the fact that you are paying for the chance to edit a book. It's a way of attempting to shift the model from hiring employees or contractors to making customers do more work. With any luck it won't be terribly successful and this post will soon be a relic of some historic experiment.