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It's time to update my 2005 book "Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project". Help me do it right.
314 backers pledged $15,376 to help bring this project to life.

Print run in 2018 for "Producing Open Source Software", and how you can help.

Posted by Karl Fogel (Creator)
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Hi, everyone, and happy new year.  I've decided that 2018 is going to be the year the print run problem for "Producing Open Source Software" 2.0 finally gets solved.

"What's the print run problem?" you might ask.

I will explain.  When I started the rewrite, I talked to O'Reilly Media, who had published the version 1.0 of the book.  We agreed that I would do the 2.0 rewrite over the course of a year, and that then they would do a print run and let me "free ride" a bit on their printing and shipping infrastructure, to get treeware copies sent to all the backers who had pledged $50 or more (that was the pledge threshold for receiving a physical copy).

Then I took about four years to do the rewrite, instead of one year.

During that time, the shape of O'Reilly's book market changed, and doing a print run of this book -- which had never been one of their bigger sellers -- made less and less sense for them.  If I had taken one year to revise it, that would have been different.  But four years later, it was awfully hard for me to look them in the eye and ask them to stick by their side of the deal even though I hadn't kept up my side.

So, how am I going to get 144 copies of POSS 2.0 to the 144 backers who pledged $50 or more?  I have an idea, but before I share it I'd like to make something clear: if no idea to get treeware to people works out, then I will simply issue refunds.  One way or another, this will all be resolved in 2018.  I'm not going to have this issue dragging on into 2019.

(Figuring out the correct refund amount, should refunds be necessary, is an interesting question.  I've tentatively decided that the amount that makes sense is the difference between the pledge level of $50 that was supposed to get you a shipped book and the pledge level of $10 beneath it -- skipping over the $20 level because that one's complicated, being about the presence of one's name in the acknowledgements of the printed edition.  And for those who pledged $100 or more for a *signed* copy, it would be the difference between $100 and $10.)

Now, while in some ways just issuing refunds would actually be the simplest and easiest solution, I'd prefer a solution that gets physical copies of version 2.0 out into the world.  That's where you come in:

If you work at a company that you think might want a bunch of copies, or know someone who does, please contact me.  Basically, I'm trying to aggregate bulk orders to get economies of scale.  I've already discussed this with a couple of people (one of them works at a very large tech company, the kind of place where an order of 500 or 1000 copies might be desirable), and have decided that it's at least not a crazy idea.

If we can aggregate bulk orders, I'll either be able to make a good economic case to O'Reilly Media to do a print run, or just arrange the print run myself somewhere.  If there are economies of scale in place, then printing and shipping the extra copies to the 144 backers becomes quite doable.

I would like to emphasize that O'Reilly Media, and in particular my wonderful editor Andy Oram, put a lot into the 2nd edition -- I feel they more than held up their end of the bargain.  They didn't expect the changes to be so extensive or to take so long (for that matter, neither did I).  It's not their responsibility, four years later, to solve the print run issue.  However, with the right bulk orders waiting, they might be wililng to do so, and even if not, I've looked into self-publishing costs and they're not too bad.

So, if there is enough demand for treeware copies, we can make this happen.  If not, then I will refund pledge money.

Let me know your thoughts.  I'm reachable at kfogel {_AT_}, as always.

Best regards,


2nd Edition completed.

Posted by Karl Fogel (Creator)

Hi, backers!  The completed 2nd edition of "Producing Open Source Software" is now online at  Thanks again to every one of you.

While there are substantial changes throughout the book, the most expanded chapter is probably Chapter 5, "Participating as a Business, Non-Profit, or Government Agency".  That chapter's title used to be just "Money", so that gives you some idea of what the new material is.

I'm still sorting out treeware arrangements and various other things [1]; that'll take a while. But the updates I'd originally wanted to make are now complete.  (All edits have been pushed to the live web site regularly during the whole process, and of course that will continue to be the case as I maintain the book.)

Best regards,


[1] If anyone has expertise in the DocBook -> EPUB build process (or DocBook -> Mobi, for that matter), and feels like helping out, please contact me :-).

Draft 2nd edition sent in to O'Reilly Media for editing.

Posted by Karl Fogel (Creator)

Dear backers,

I just sent in the first complete draft of the 2nd edition of "Producing Open Source Software" to Andy Oram, my editor at O'Reilly Media.  This is the beginning of the editing process, of course, not the end, but it's still an important milestone.  The book is essentially done; I just have to sit back, eat strawberries and cream, and react to Andy's edits :-).  (Just kidding.  It's not really like that.  There are also blueberries.)

I also still need to update the Acknowledgments to include you all, so please don't worry if you see that that section hasn't changed.  That's coming soon, and I'm looking forward to doing it.

Thank you all for your patience.  As always, the latest copy of the book is online at

Best regards,


Latest progress on "Producing Open Source Software" (so close).

Posted by Karl Fogel (Creator)

Recently, backer Stefan Heinz asked a perfectly reasonable question:

"Hi Karl - One of the things they say about being essential for a good crowdsourcing campaign is communication with the investors ... that would be us. Your last update is from 9 months (!!!!) ago.

I don't consider that good communication ... what's the plan? what's the hold-up? could it be that you are doing this all on your own and fail because of unexpected complications???"

Here is my response (which I originally sent to him by private mail, in response to an email he had sent me about a missing PDF download that I will fix as soon as I can -- but my response is better posted here as an update):

Hi, Stefan; thanks for writing, and for donating!

The PDF file is missing just because of an error in the build process -- the HTML (and the XML master sources under version control) on the web site are all up-to-date with the latest changes.  The 2nd edition changes are all done except for a few subsections in one chapter (Chapter 5 -- online you can see where the todo notes are in the text).  I'm traveling at the moment, at a conference in China, and have scheduled a few extra days after the end of the conference to stay here and work on the book.  [...]  I'll post this on Kickstarter as soon as I can get a moment with my computer. [...]

In retrospect, if I had understood what the pressures of a young and growing company would be, I would not have started the 2nd edition when I did.  It has been a lesson.  However, it has been making progress, over much more time than I expected, and is very close now.  Everything is in the public repository & web site; I don't have any private version of the book anywhere.

[Naturally, right after I wrote that to Stefan, two urgent things came up at the company, and the time I'd blocked out was seriously eaten into.  Sigh.  I can't imagine, though, that between now and the end of November I won't be able to find the weekend necessary to complete the text, and that's really the amount that remains.]

Latest status.

Posted by Karl Fogel (Creator)

Hey, backers.  Sorry for the long silence (here, but more importantly in the book's repository).  This transcript of a recent IRC conversation with my friend Michael Bernstein -- "webmaven" below -- sums up what's going on:


How is 'Producing 2.0' coming along?


(tell you in a sec after done w/ rep here)

(b/c answer is complex)


Sounds ominous


oh no, not so ominous

just we got a HUGE client with a 2-month very demanding gig

it's important, we need to do it, [...]

but it means no time in Nov and Dec, which hurts :-(

and worse (or better, depending on how you look at it), it's related to the book

IOW, material that remains to be written for the book will be better *after* I do this gig, b/c the gig involves some research that will be useful for the book

But I am really worried about this phenomenon where my day job keeps making the book better -- there's no end to that, you know?

At a certain point, one has to just ship.

For Nov and Dec, I don't have any choice anyway, but I don't want to add to the delay after that.


Understood. Have you been sending out backer updates?


Not since a while ago; I have a bit set to do one.

* webmaven_work nods