Because this book’s only source of revenue is readers like you. If you don’t pay, the book dies.
Beautiful Racket is not a blog. It is not a collection of previously published essays. It is not a lightly seasoned casserole of existing open-source material.
It is a new, original project conceived and executed as a book. I started on this project at the beginning of 2016. And 15 months later, here it is.
But I don’t want you to pay because it was a lot of work. (So what? All books are.) Rather, I want you to judge it on the criteria you’d apply to any other book. Most of all: was it worth your time as a reader?
If so, then please pay for it.
“Well, I’d pay if it were a paperback.” For my part, I didn’t take any shortcuts while writing this book just because it was being published on the web. Still, I did consider the paperback option:
|When does the reader pay?||Before reading||Anytime|
|Who gets the money?||Mostly the printer, reseller, and shipper||Just me, the guy who did the work|
|When does the book go obsolete?||Within 6–12 months||Never|
|Does it link to the Racket docs?||No||Throughout|
|Can I download the sample code?||No||Yes|
|When are errors corrected?||In the second edition||Usually within hours|
|Does it make a satisfying thump when dropped from a height?||Yes||No|
I concede that the thumping noise is better for you with a paperback. But otherwise, the web-based book is better for everyone.
“But this book should at least be cheaper than a paperback, because you saved the costs of printing it.” Sort of. Though I saved the costs of printing, I have to absorb the costs of freeloaders who enjoy the book but don’t pay. I don’t mean casual visitors. I mean the people who will write me a long message explaining that they read the whole book, loved it, but won’t pay for it, citing some gossamer excuse like “you don’t take Bitcoin” or “this would be a great use case for micropayments”, etc.
OK. Thanks bro. I’ve already got a mile-high stack of these messages from readers of my other web-based book, Practical Typography. They boil down to a small set of recurring excuses. But as an author, the bottom line is simple: those who pay for the book, whatever their reasons, are helping to keep it available for those who don’t, whatever their reasons.
I decided against crowdfunding this project because a) this book needed to be written, so the opinion of the crowd was irrelevant and b) I didn’t want to create rewards & goodies as an inducement.
Why not? It’s consistent with my earlier premise—I want you to evaluate this book on the criteria that you’d apply to any other. Do you get extra goodies when you buy other technical books? No. You get a book.
I think of Beautiful Racket as a way of passing the hat to defray my costs on a set of projects:
Writing, maintaining, correcting, and updating the book itself.
Developing and maintaining the open-source libraries used in the code samples, beautiful-racket and brag.
Developing and maintaining Pollen, the open-source software that I used to make this book. (And you can use it for yours.)
My work on Racket generally, including my annual sponsorship of RacketCon.
The phrase “defray costs” is deliberate. In a purely economic sense, there’s no way these projects will turn a profit for me. In fact, readers are more likely to profit from this material than I will.
Which would be terrific! As a reader, I’ve certainly read books that returned far more value than the price I paid. As a writer, I’d be hugely complimented for this book to do that for others.
But there’s still a relationship between inputs and outputs. The more that readers pay for this book, the more time I can devote to the projects listed above. The less that readers pay, the more of that time will be redirected to other projects.
It’s really up to you. So if you read the book, enjoyed the book, learned things from the book, then please—vote with your wallet.