Selling books

hingo's picture

I just checked at Lulu.com and it seems I've now sold my first couple of books. Yippiee! I immediately also noticed a small drawback. With the Finnish book I'd receive the orders into my personal mailbox, and write a personal thank you note to the buyer. Now I have no idea who it is that is buying the book. Of course, that's the inevitable price of automation.

A surprising turn of events I had not foreseen, is that publishing the English book also boosted the sales of the original Finnish book this week. Well, that's ok with me too. I don't care what language they are sold in.

One guy was wondering whether he should read the Finnish or English version. Typically (here he is just like me) he always reads books in English, because he prefers the original language instead of Finnish translations. But now that the translation is in English and the original in Finnish, he was all confused :-)

Then he realised he can start reading both books on the net, then decide based on that which to buy. This is exactly the point with publishing books Open Source style, and I'd like to make this point clear to everyone: You don't have to feel bad or anything for reading the online version for free, that's why it's there. Then if you like the book, do the right thing. (Buy it, that is. After all, the translation was mostly paid for from my wife's salary. It's ok, but I don't mind covering at least a part of it by actual sales of the book. And you'd be supporting LWN readers and FFII too, of course. It's all about sharing.)

Talking about selling books, I came to think of what must have been a high point in the Finnish book sales. This happened at Debconf5 last summer, which was in Helsinki, or Espoo to be precise. I wasn't there all the time, but I used a talk on Asterisk to leave work early, since I work with Voice over IP. Only to find out the talk was canceled, but I spent a nice Friday evening listening to Mark Shuttleworth and playing Mao!

Volunteering at Debconf was a well known FLUG figure known to us as 'Frank'. Frank is a talkative person and kind of a salesman, so he asked whether I had any Avoin Elämä books with me. "Well I have two in my bag, but I didn't think about this event that way, I thought there are mostly non-Finns here." So Frank took one of my two books and looked up a guy that actually knows Finnish, and what do you know, he actually sold it to him. Not only that, while walking back he already sold the other book and took it directly out of my hand.

This is interesting I thought. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that the right thing to do is to miss an hour of Debconf and go home to get some more books. Of course then I realise that in the summer it is really hard to take a bus out of the Otaniemi campus, so in order not to spend the entire night on this adventure I take a taxi. Sure that'll be as expensive as I may actually profit from selling the books I'm going to get, but even so, I decide to do it. So it turns out the taxi driver has just heard about Linux and is really interested about Debconf and my book. And in the end he ends up giving me a free trip in exchange for a copy!

In the end Frank sold another 7 books or so that evening, and most amazingly he even sold one copy to a Dutch guy who knew absolutely no Finnish!

(I hope I knew who that Dutch guy is, I think it would be proper to give him a copy of the English translation now:-)

Well, that's it for today. More amazing stories to come.

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