18 May 2011

Leanpub and The Book of the Blog

I came across Leanpub, which is a kind of do-it-yourself site for publishing e-books. It’s the brainchild of one Peter Armstrong. Unusually for a start-up, it has a rather clear and compelling manifesto, which I recommend, as well as a 10-minute xtranormal video, which goes over some of the same ground in a form more suitable for prospective authors who don’t like reading.

The manifesto is based on the idea that an author writing a book has a lot in common with a start-up company, and—particularly, with the advent of e-books—can benefit from applying many of the practices and principles now common among start-ups, especially so-called “lean” startups. These include ideas like launching early, releasing often, getting user feedback as you go and failing early. The e-books produced on the site are entirely free of DRM (a large tick in the box, from my perspective) and are available in multiple formats (ePub, .mobi and PDF, currently).

A particular goal for Leanpub is to encourage bloggers to turn their blogs into books, with Leanpub’s e-bestseller Venture Hacks, by Babeck Nivi and Naval Ravikant being a motivating example of this practice.

I’m at least toying with the idea of doing something similar with About Tag, though whereas the Venture Hacks e-book is (as I understand it) pretty much literally just a dump of the blog into e-book format, I would plan to edit it both in the sense of removing some material, bringing other parts up to date and adding some new stuff.

As a result, you may see some posts over coming weeks and months that are really primarily intended to be introductory material of Fluidinfo, that feels like it might be needed in a book.

If you’re interested, there’s a page on the (proposed, outline) book at http://leanpub.com/abouttag. You can comment, if you have a mind to.

The blog will continue, and all the information will remain freely available here; the e-book would just be another way for people who prefer to pay money for content, or prefer eBook formats, to get it. This statement gives me an excuse to finish by linking to this rather wonderful quote from the estimable Mark (“Dive Into”) Pilgrim:

“I write free books and people buy them. It works out surprisingly well.”

Mark Pilgrim.

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