I want to give you an update on Coffee Shop Contemplations, my ebook of essays written and published to Hack/Make in 2012. First off, it’s now available for purchase in the iBookstore. I really like the reading experience of the scrolling feature on iBooks and I’ve made sure the book is well formatted so you can enjoy that. You can also buy it for Kindle.
So far, my experiment has been a successful one. As I outlined in the FAQ (which I’ve reposted below), I’ve both sold enough copies to make back the 20 bucks I spent to license the cover image and inspired someone to write something because of it.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the book and why I did it.
Q: Why did you publish a book when all of this stuff is already online?
A: Three reasons: 1) A lot more people read books than blogs. I want to share these ideas with those people too. 2) I thought this would be a good way for the dear readers of Hack/Make to show their support with some of their hard-earned dollars. 3) I wanted to be able to call myself an author.
Q: Wait, you published a book just so you could call yourself an author?
A: Kinda. Let’s be honest here: how often do people call themselves something when they’re not? They introduce themselves at parties as a “writer” or have “producer” in their Twitter bio when they don’t really write or produce much of anything. I figured I’d try this the other way around. I’d package some stuff I wrote into a “book”. I’d put it on Amazon and then, if I wanted, I could put “Author” in my bio and link to Amazon to prove it. It’s not as hard as you think to pursue the things you want. (And no one’s claiming I’m a good author.)
Q: I’ve been reading Hack/Make for a while. Should I buy this book?
A: Short answer, yes. You have a few options: you can buy the book and reread the essays. Maybe you’ll find something you missed or maybe some more of the pieces will connect or maybe you won’t get anything out of it. You can buy the book to support me and to support the idea of sharing, connecting, and creating ideas no matter how under qualified you are, and then just not read it. Or you can not buy it and not read it. I prefer the first option and I think it’ll be worth your few dollars.
Q: $3.99? There are better and longer books out there for less money.
A: You’re right. And they’re probably undercharging. We take it upon ourselves to set the value of the things that matter to us. I think we need to make sure that ideas don’t become a commodity.
Q: Erm, you said in the Introduction that this is an experiment. Experiments have a hypothesis and collect quantitative and qualitative metrics to analyze whether the experiment proved the hypothesis, and therefore whether it was a success or not. So.
A: First, that wasn’t a question, nerd. Second, a qualitative metric for you: I need to sell 8.5 copies of this (after the 30% cut) to break even on the $20 I payed to license the cover image. After that, it’s a success. My hypothesis has already been proven, by the way. You can break the rules and do something different without anyone’s permission. You should try your own experiments too.
Q: What’s with the title?
A: Most of these essays were written in coffee shops on my iPad. Coffee shops seem to be a good atmosphere where people come to share, talk, make, learn, relax, and that’s a place where I like to write. The caffeine helps too.
Q: How do you take your coffee?