O’Reilly publishes unfinished book, plans to raise price as it nears completion

O’Reilly Media is experimenting with a new publishing model for Todd Sattersten’s book “Every Book Is a Startup,” releasing it now as an ebook even though it’s not complete. Right now the book is $5 for the first two chapters, with all future chapters promised as free updates, and as the book grows in length the price will go up. When finished, it will also be released in print for $25.

The idea, writes Joe Wilkert on his blog, is to use the agile model of software startups—”release early and release often”—both to encourage purchases and to collect useful feedback on the manuscript.

Here’s some more info on the book itself from the product page:

Every Book Is a Startup provides a roadmap for publishing professionals interested in bringing a fresh, entrepreneurial approach to the business of book publishing, based on techniques proven effective in the world of tech startups. This book shows you how to apply tech industry concepts such as customer development, validated learning, and pivots to create publishing business practices that are agile, flexible, and highly profitable.

Here at O’Reilly Media, we’ve incorporated many of these techniques into our own publishing business, including “release early, release often.” With that in mind, the initial release of this project discusses two core ideas for how this new way of thinking can be applied to book publishing, and solicits your ideas about what we might include in future releases of this book. What do you want to know more about? Would a variety of case studies be helpful? Let us know!

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