In Lean publishing I said
I’ll think about it for a week, but right now I’m leaning towards doing a pre-release of my book at a very low price on Leanpub. What do my readers think? Anyone interested?
Well, that week lasted less than a day. I’ve put the book up on Leanpub’s book store as
For now, everything is pretty much draft format: I have a temporary cover page, lots of marginal notes to myself about what needs changing, few exercises, and a host of things that need to be done to the book.
The book is only available in PDF format, because I’m developing it in LaTeX, and there is no good way to get LaTeX documents into EPUB and MOBI formats. From what I’ve seen so far, there is no good way to produce books with a lot of figures and cross references in EPUB and MOBI formats, so I’m stuck with LaTeX at least for the next year.
I dithered for a while about setting a price for the book—I wanted it cheap enough that people who were interested in it would be willing to get a pre-release copy, but not free—since the people would not bother looking at it, even if they got a copy. I settled on a minimum price of $2.99 and suggested price of $9.99, as representing a fair price for the book in its current draft form. Those prices probably won’t stop anyone who wants to read the book from getting it, but will discourage random freebie hunters. I do plan to raise the minimum price as the book gets more nearly finished.
The Leanpub model, where purchasers get all updates to the book that are done on Leanpub, means that early purchasers get a real bargain.
I’ve not yet put up a sample chapter or table of contents for the book, but I plan to do that later this week—I’ll probably include all the front matter and two sample chapters (a lab chapter and the associated supporting theory chapter) in the sample. I’ve not figured out which chapters to include in the sample yet. (If anyone does buy the draft book, I’d welcome suggestions about which chapters to show in the sample.)
I’ll be setting up coupons for students who take my class to get the book for free, and I’ll make those coupons available to students who have formerly taken the class. (I’ve not done that yet, since the next class isn’t until Spring 2016, but if there are former students reading this blog, send me e-mail and I’ll set up a coupon code you can use.)
None of the book is set in stone, but some parts are more solid than others—I’m pretty happy with how several of the chapters worked in the Spring 2015 offering of the course, but other labs need complete rewrites, changing the nature of the lab. The cover page is definitely a placeholder—I threw it together in a couple of hours tonight, just to have something to put on the site. I started an index, but have not really gone through the book looking for what concepts need to be indexed, nor indexed all occurrences of the concepts I’ve started indexing. A better index is pretty far down on my priority list right now, but I will take suggestions about things that really need indexing—fixing one or two entries in the index could be a good break from more intense writing.
At some point I’ll be putting up a bunch of other files with the book as a “bundle”. The bundle will include all the gnuplot scripts and programs that I provide to my students, plus Eagle files for the prototyping PC boards. I might also do a “teacher” bundle that includes all the gnuplot scripts and data files used for generating the figures in the books. I don’t know whether Leanpub provides a way for purchasers of a book to later upgrade to a bundle that includes the book—but a workaround can probably found using coupons.
One of the reasons for releasing a draft on Leanpub is to get feedback from readers—particularly about things they find incorrect, poorly written, inconsistent, missing, redundant, or just confusing. That feedback can be on the Leanpub site, by email (Leanpub provides a link), or here on the blog. Tiny details are probably best done by e-mail, but more substantive suggestions that might be worth discussing (like pedagogical approach or order of the material) may be better done in blog comments.