The goal of this project is to produce a complete book on Modelica that is available under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license.
A "Free" Modelica Book? Maybe...with your help.
The Story So Far...
In 2001, I wrote the first book on Modelica. I got a lot of positive feedback from that effort and the book was even translated into Japanese. But one of the things that many people were unhappy with was the price. Well, I wasn't too thrilled with it either. The book was way too expensive. But the problem was, it wasn't my choice. It was my publisher's. And I could not do anything about it.
So What's All This About?
This is an experiment. But I need your help.
I'd like to try a different model for publishing a book. I want to publish a book so that I can retain control of the content.
Because that way I can achieve my real goal in writing the first book which is to help anybody understand what makes Modelica so useful. Because if it is up to me, I will make a copy of the book available for free on the web. I could also sell physical and ebook reader compatible versions much cheaper than via a conventional publishing route.
I was inspired by the "patronage" model behind KickStarter. The basic idea is to allow content creators to solicit "patrons" who would like to sponsor their work.
What's the Catch?
No catch really. My goal in writing my previous book was to help people come up to speed with Modelica using relevant, real-world examples. But in that case, it only helped people who bought the book.
My goal is still the same but this time I want to have a version of the book that reaches everyone who is interested in the topic.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The main challenge will be balancing this project with other personal and professional obligations. I've deliberately set the delivery to be just before the next Modelica Conference to give me enough time to produce the material. I plan to be very transparent with this project and release drafts for review in the meantime so the basic material will be available much sooner.
I plan to cover the subject of Modelica but the amount of money will determine how much depth I can cover. Hopefully people will find this a worthwhile project and I can exceed my funding goal. This will allow me to provide not just the necessary breadth of coverage but also give me the luxury of some in-depth discussions.
It means that I will make an HTML version available to anyone who wants it under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
I'm concerned about there being multiple versions of this book floating around on the internet with different content or varying quality.
While there are limited possibilities for commercialization because there will always be a freely available version on the web, as the creator of the content I want to reserve the right to control those few commercial opportunities to help recoup some of the production costs.
Not at all. I would be thrilled to work with anyone who wants to create a localized version of the book. As long as people are willing to distribute the translated version under essentially the same terms, I'll be happy to grant them a license.
I plan to provide both physical and ebook version of the book. Although the HTML version of the book will be available for free (see http://book.xogeny.com/#Licensing), I will charge for the physical and ebook version of the book. However, because I will be self-publishing the book, I'll be able to offer the book at a much more affordable price than the current book.
If you are charging for non-web based versions, why should we contribute to the KickStarter project?
Physical and electronic versions of the book will not be able to cover the true cost of developing the content. And even if they did, we would be right back where we are with the current book forcing people to buy a physical copy in order to benefit from the book. It is important to keep in mind that the main goal of this project is to provide a high quality and 100% accessible book that thoroughly covers Modelica. By contributing, you help make that a reality. Writing such a book is a lot of work and, at the end of the day, I simply cannot do it without some support. This is an experiment to see if the "patronage" model of KickStarter could be a means for supporting the development of such content.
Sadly, that means the experiment failed and the status quo will continue. I cannot afford to produce a quality book without that minimum level of support.
That means I'll be able to put even more effort into providing a quality book. I'm not sure exactly what specific differences this will make, but it means I won't feel as much financial pressure to hurry up and complete the project and hopefully that will lead to more examples, higher quality visuals, etc.
But there is one other potential benefit from such a development. It could also set an example for other content providers to take this KickStart approach as well. And it might not be just for books. It could be for Modelica libraries or even Modelica tools. My experience is that the Modelica community is very passionate about modeling and simulation and this could prove to be yet another way that people choose to support the ongoing development of the Modelica community and eco-system.