Why you should pay

Be­cause this book’s only source of rev­enue is read­ers like you. If you don’t pay, the book dies.

This book is partly an on­go­ing ex­per­i­ment in tak­ing the web se­ri­ously as a book-pub­lish­ing medium. I have a role to play in mak­ing the ex­per­i­ment work. And so do you.

For my part, I wanted to de­liver a level of writ­ing and de­sign qual­ity that you’d find in a printed book. Not that print will al­ways be the gold stan­dard. But to­day it is. Be­cause so far, web-based books—nice ones, any­how—have been slow to emerge.

Yet these books can’t emerge un­til writ­ers put in the ef­fort to make them. So I did. I wrote the text. I de­signed the fonts. I made the il­lus­tra­tions. I cre­ated a book-pub­lish­ing sys­tem called Pollen. I paid for the web servers. It was, in short, expensive.

But I don’t want you to pay for this book be­cause it was a lot of work. So what? All books are. Rather, I want you to judge it on the cri­te­ria you’d ap­ply to any other book. Most of all:

Was it worth your time as a reader?

Be­cause your time is ex­pen­sive too. This is a fact of­ten over­looked in de­bates about how much a dig­i­tal book should cost. Read­ing a book is a big un­der­tak­ing. What you spend to buy a book—whether $5 or $50—is small com­pared to the hours you’ll spend read­ing it. Every great book is un­der­priced; no bad book is cheap enough. So to min­i­mize your risk, you don’t have to pay be­fore you read this book.

But that doesn’t mean the book is free. If you like the book, I’m re­ly­ing on you—yes, you, not the guy over there—to help sus­tain the ef­fort. I want you to en­joy the book, learn from the book, but also sup­port the book. If it was worth your time, please pay for it. See how to pay for this book.

And if you dis­agree, please—no need to send an email ex­plain­ing why, e.g., “you don’t take Bit­coin” or “this would be a great use case for mi­cro­pay­ments”. Thanks bro. But I’ve been pub­lish­ing books on­line since 2008. I’ve heard all the ex­cuses. As an au­thor, the bot­tom line is sim­ple: those who pay for the book, what­ever their rea­sons, are help­ing to keep it avail­able for those who don’t, what­ever their reasons.

Please also note that there are no ads on this web­site, and as long as read­ers keep pay­ing, there won’t be. I be­lieve that reader-sup­ported pub­lish­ing can work on the web. But I also dis­like pay­walls. Don’t you? So let’s skip it. I’ve done my part. I trust you to do yours.

—Matthew Butterick

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