We run a publishing business that’s been profitable since inception, which is growing in the face of the general decline of the book market, with an avid and supportive base of readers and authors. We pay the highest royalties in the industry and give our authors real-time sales information. We publish all books DRM-free in all major formats, and we distribute more volume directly from our online site than through the conventional retail channel. We have almost no fixed costs, and no full-time employees. We can run our entire business anywhere there’s a network connection and a decent pot of coffee.
We’re two guys who know nothing about publishing, but know a whole bunch about creating agile and effective organizations and systems. And for the last seven years we’ve been having a blast creating award winning technical books.
In this talk we’ll describe how we do it, the principles that underly why we do it, and (with any luck) show you our toolchain in action, from signing up an author to putting ink on paper.
Dave Thomas is a programmer turned accidental publisher. Along with Andy Hunt and a team of amazing people, Dave helps create the stuff at Pragmatic Bookshelf.
Andy started in the do-it-yourself days of CP/M and the S100 bus, of Heathkits and Radio Electronics. Andy wrote his first real program, a combination text editor and database manager, for an Ohio Scientific Challenger 4P. It was a great era for tinkering. Andy started hacking in 6502 assembler, modifying operating systems, and wrote his first commercial program (a Manufacturing Resources Planning system) in 1981. He taught himself Unix and C, and began to design and architect larger, more connected systems.
Working at large companies, Andy kept an ear on Usenet, and started his early email habit via a direct bang-path to ihnp4. Next he settled into electronic pre-press and computer graphics, and worked on that wondrous eye-candy that was Silicon Graphics machines. By now a firm command of several flavors of Unix, from BSD to System V, led Andy to try consulting. His knack for stirring things up really began to come in handy, and it soon became obvious that many of his clients each suffered similar problems—-problems that Andy had already seen and fixed before.
Andy joined up with Dave Thomas and they wrote the seminal software development book, The Pragmatic Programmer, followed a year later by the original Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmer’s Guide, which introduced the Western world to this new language from Japan. Together they founded The Pragmatic Programmers and have became increasingly well known, as founders of the new agile movement and authors of the Agile Manifesto, as well as proponents of Ruby and more flexible programming paradigms, and their Pragmatic Bookshelf publishing business, helping keep developers at the top of their game.
Andy is a member of IEEE and ACM, founder of the Pragmatic Programmers, founder of the Agile Alliance and author of the Agile Manifesto, and author of six books. He is an active musician and woodworker, and continues looking for new areas where he can stir things up.
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