Thursday, July 03, 2014

A footnote of a book: Agile Reader, 3rd edition

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If you have had the pleasure to see me present in recent months - either in public or on a training course - you might have noticed that I have taken to describing myself as “a writer who pays the bills by consulting and providing training.”

Partly thats because I always seem to come back to writing, I seem to have this insatiable need to express myself and explain my thoughts. Hence two traditional, old fashioned books Changing Software Development and Business Patterns. When I say traditional I mean full on professional publishers (Wiley): an editor, proper copy editing, professional layout, print runs that run to thousands and so on. A book by anyone’s standard.

And more recently Xanpan: Team Centric Software Development. A book, two hundred pages of words, even printed on dead trees but really an e-book at heart. But no formal publisher; yes it has been professionally copy edited but layout, you don’t get many layout options in LeanPub. The print on demand version even has some really good reviews online (see Xanpan at Lulu).

I’m very happy with Xanpan’s success, and I have ideas for two more volumes. Although, as I keep pointing out: writing doesn’t pay the mortgage so I should do something more commercial with my time!

However, there is another book. A book I shy away from calling “a book” - I usually call it a mini-book. Perhaps pamphlet would be a better old-fashioned term. Surprisingly the sales on this lessor known book probably exceed any of the other three. (Actually I’m still trying to work out what a book actually is, these four books demonstrate the dilemma very well.)

And I’ve just released a third edition. This time I’ve moved it all over to the LeanPub system so you can buy a cheap e-book Agile Reader for you Kindle (or whatever) but I’m also making Agile Reader available via Lulu print on demand as a printed book. (As with the printed Xanpan, all printed books include a token to obtain a free e-book version by the way)

I don’t make a big fuss about Agile Reader because historically little in it is original, its just pulls existing material together. But much to my amazement two people have already bought the third edition it from LeanPub - before I’ve even told anyone it exists!

Agile Reader is a collection of writing I give attendees on my training courses as further reading. I don’t believe slides make for interesting reading so I provide a book. I believe my Agile course should be about giving people Agile experience in the classroom so they can just do it. Agile Reader exists to fill in everything else.

The funny thing is, because everyone on my courses for the last 3 years have received a free copy Agile Reader 2012 (the second edition) it is one of the top selling (top 100) books on Lulu globally! But I felt it needed a refresh….

Originally Agile Reader was articles I had published elsewhere. In the second edition, Agile Reader 2012, there was some new material and a contribution from Kevlin Henney. The third edition, Agile Reader (3rd edition), retains Kevlin’s contribution and has more original material. In addition a lot of the other material has been refreshed to bring it up to date.

In fact, Agile Reader 3 contains so much revised material on requirements that I think its almost a Xanpan volume 3 prototype. But now I’ve refreshed Agile Reader I really want to write Xanpan volume 2, I’m just bursting with things I want to say so volume 3 will have to wait!

Just a foot note really.