In January, I took a big business risk and stopped selling PDF versions of my books (here’s the original announcent, which splains why). Choosing to do so involved much more un-doing of work than I have ever before dared to un-do. Developing the capacity to deliver PDFs (efficiently) in the first place was one of the largest and most programmy projects of my career, and I am not a programmer.1 It consumed at least 200 hours directly, and probably 300 more indirectly, spread over 2-3 years of scheming and planning — and I just chucked 80% of it away. It was a disheartening and ominous leap of faith, one of those tough choices that supposedly defines good, bold enterpreneurship. I don’t know if it actually does, but that’s what they say!
Well, it’s one business quarter later, and I still don’t think I’ve made a huge mistake:
- I don’t miss PDFs one bit
- there was no apparent impact on my business (which continues to grow), and
- the skills and foundations I built clearly have many spin-off benefits.
Of course, I do regret the original project in a fairly large way…
The big idea was not just to produce PDFs, but to organize and publish my content in a way that made it possible to efficiently, automagically regenerate PDFs regularly and frequently for years as the books were updated. That was a novel, massive, and idealistic undertaking — and also the wrong move, it turned out! ↩