In this case, you get an e-mail that says: "Periodically we'll drop you a line if we have something interesting to share." (There's also an unsubscribe link.) They'll get to build up an incredible list with this.
I'm happy to see 37signals using this approach as it helps legitimize the technique of building a list using free content without disclosing a subscription up front. Till now I've avoided this technique but I imagine it could convert like crazy and build a good list if done right.
That policy clearly states that "This checkbox must not be checked by default, the person completing the form must willingly select the checkbox to indicate they want to hear from you."
Having no checkbox AND no indication you're joining any sort of list breaks the rules set by their provider.
(I'm making the assumption they continue to use CampaignMonitor).
I had a look through MailChimp's TOS and it could be interpreted a few ways but this sort of 'existing relationship' thing is covered, although it pertains to a purchase rather than a freebie.
But at the same time it's pretty old now and if you read HN for more than 3 months then the book won't offer any surprise. And though it's not very much about Rails or programming it still transports a specific and opinionated mindset about how life and in particular entrepreneurship has to work. From 37signals' point of view it's the only way how entrepreneurship should be approached while heavily despising other ways, as recently seen in DHH last post about players like Pinterest, Instagram or Quora. So, it's pretty much like Rails—there is only one way and no other—and thus, you should take some messages of the book with a grain of salt and be aware that it's aged and to some extent just a leverage for email Marketing for 37signals (also aging) products.
Nope. It's not the only way. It's one way. There are lots of ways to build a product and run a business. Getting Real is what we've learned. Same with REWORK - it's our experience and advice in book form. Neither book pretends to be the only way.
If you have your own unique approach, and you think your experience can be valuable to those who haven't had your experience, take the time to write it up and share it with the world.
I don't know if DHH agrees on that—maybe you should check his latest post.
> If you have your own unique approach, and you think your experience can be valuable to those who haven't had your experience, take the time to write it up and share it with the world.
Good idea, thanks, but I won't write a book. Reading HN for some months gives starters the same full experience but less opinionated—so blogging, reading and posting to HN should transport knowledge very effectively, maybe easier than reading cumbersome PDFs and that's what I'd recommend for getting into startups. People get here the wide variety of different approaches.
Don't get me wrong: I still highly recommend Get Real—again for all people here: it's a great book, it was groundbreaking, go, get it, provide your email adress to 37signals and read it, it's worth—but its content is not so outstanding as it was 5 yrs ago and for some more experienced ones maybe just a little tiny bit too opinionated. And that's all I wanted to say.
Kudos for making the whole thing free. But it wasn't that big a leap.
wget -m -k -nH <http://site.url/>
Not to be a dick, but I would appreciate a mobi version of it.
It's still better than reading a PDF on an e-ink Kindle or phone sized screen, it's just a bit messier. Sometimes the Kindle conversion works superb though, it's just a crapshoot.
Nevermind, the html version is still public: https://gettingreal.37signals.com/toc.php
About 'Less features' I've mixed feelings. In lots of markets (for example I am building a markdown editor for windows) you have lots of free competition, and one of the most important competitive advantages of paid applications is feature-completeness. Just too much people build 'minimal' free applications nowadays. 'Minimal' can get in the way of monetization easily.
Also 'Build software for yourself' is a good idea, but if you are a programmer, and all your ideas are developer tools be extremely careful because you will have an extreme amount of (mostly free) competition and a crazily hardly monetizable user base.
But still, there are very good thoughts in this book, and of course I try to not put any unnecessary features or options into my product.
I strongly suggest that everyone write down this sentence-fragment and analyze it carefully, because it describes the borked way many people perceive value for things and you should specifically avoid framing things you write for your business such that they align with this value system.
For example, for a similar offer, I might have gone with microcopy like "Get the New York Times best-seller" [enter your email address] Button: "Send me my copy."
NYT best-seller turns the "It's old!" objection on its head: it is now social proof of its value. (This depends on whether its a NYT best-seller, which I don't know off the top of my head. If it isn't technically, there are other ways to phrase that: sold X00,000 copies, etc.)
"Get" is (testably!) a stronger verb that "Download" because people have positive associations with possession and non-positive associations with bits, particularly people who expect their bits to be free.
"My copy" activates those covetous neuroreceptors that really like exclusive ownership of things. People really like that, even the same folks who will yak your ear off that data cannot be owned: for example, almost all of them will beam with pride when saying "my favorite band" as if they have a particular claim to feudal loyalty from the people whose music they most frequently don't pay for.
But the point is much, much broader than microcopy on particular pages. It informs how you'd go about executing on a "content strategy" -- for example, if you just take the date off stuff you put into WordPress and stop calling them "blog posts" and start calling them "comprehensive guides to X written by our experts" customer perceived value will go through the roof. Seriously, this is testable.
I will publish more extensive commentary on the strategic implications of this for software businesses later. (Notice how much better that sounds than "I will blog about this.")
Man, I hate it when people do this. No offense to you, of course--and I'm sure your advice is backed by good data and provably worth quite a bit of money--but man do I hate it.
I can't tell you how many times I've been looking at a post and tried to find the date, whether to figure out what version of a product someone was likely talking about, or to cross reference against some other post, or to consider the post in light of other events at the time.
I realize why it's done, and I realize that this is another one of those "you are not the typical user" issues, and all that. But it's still frustrating.
For me there were three specific ideas to take away from this comment (which I am guessing you wrote in a few minutes).
I loved the quality of the writing. Insightful, entertaining. Use phrases like 'covetous neuroreceptors' and mine start to fire.
Listen to this man!
And there's also no ebook available, just the PDF, so if you want it on the Kindle you have to convert it yourself.
It's like they try to nudge you towards buying the thing. Which, of course, isn't a bad thing but I wonder if it's intentional.
It's a pretty old book though so I doubt this strategy will work but I might be mistaken.
(Maybe they want you to print it on really large paper and use it as your office wallpaper? That's a completely different strategy…)
Anyhow, I would have preferred a simple text file. I don't see what PDF gives me except extra work to convert it to something else. Which is probably why, most likely, I'm not even going to read the thing.
There seems to be this really weird trend where people seem to think they're entitled to free stuff when and how they want it. They don't quite come out and demand it but the subtext is clear as day. Your comment and much of the others exemplify this. You basically just said "I'm not reading it because it doesn't come in my preferred format" which isn't far from "they should release it in the format I desire". (it's not what you say but how you say it). Then there's that direct download link and the complaints about giving an email to get a PDF. That's entitlement. It seems the beggars believe they can also be choosers. Someone is giving something at no cost but people still feel they should be able to circumvent simply giving an email which they can unsubscribe from later quite easily. Imagine if 37Signals set up a booth on a public street corner and gave away hard copies of their book and then people went around saying "I shouldn't have to walk to the booth and say hi to Jason and DHH, they should just ship it to me". Its really not that big of a stretch!
I happen to notice a lot of this and it really gets to me.
The book itself seems interesting because of all the hype about it. But if I say I won't read it because it's not in the format I want it that suggests how important it really is to me, ie. not much.
I'm not saying I'm entitled to their book in my format, just that it would have been convenient.
There is only so much time available and even the "free" stuff costs, the more hoops they make you jump through.
If Coca Cola is giving away free six-packs at the local supermarket I probably won't drive half an hour to get there. But I also won't go to the neighborhood small market to get a single bottle because I'll realize I never wanted a Coca Cola to begin with, I was only curious what all the hype about the new flavor is all about.
This will benefit them far more than any lingering sales revenue might have. 37Signals seem to consistently do this sort of thing right.
Oddily many paid ebooks are available free via the authors blogs. LeanPub and others make it really easy to roll up your blog into an ebook and then easily sell it via the usual channels.
*Motives - boost awareness of brand to extend userbase, collect email addresses for future marketing campaigns, getting ready to release a paid version of a new or existing book, generosity etc
 - Podcast that talks about lean publishing...
With this free release I have started emailing people about it all over again.
Thought it was already free for years.
Compare the reading experience of a PDF to that of an ePUB or other ebook-specific format.
I've recently started using Moon-Reader on Android. And ... it's pretty awesome. Text is legible, you can read pages without zooming/panning pages, text fluidly fills the page, graphics are supported, navigation is very fluid, controls are, if not "intuitive", very discoverable and stay out of your face.
Plus the whole application is designed for reading multiple books. There's a bookshelf, access to local storage (if you need that), and online ePUB libraries (OPDS format).
I've tried converting from other formats to ePUB via Calibre, and it's a bit hit-or-miss. It seems to be broken currently in Debian/wheezy. Under Ubunto 11.10, I may or may not get something that's actually converted, and the formatting can be really, really broken.
Oh, and in ePUB/Moon-Reader, if you leave the book or app and go back -- you're where you left off (as with a dedicated hardware eBook reader). Unlike every PDF reader I've experience on Android, where you start off again from page 1.
Sorry, but the mobile PDF experience is extremely broken.
Actually, other than printing to paper (or previewing same), the PDF experience is extremely broken. I'd prefer ePUB for pretty much all my documentation these days.
If you'll note my points, there's functionality above and beyond just plain display that a proper eBook app has. From what I've seen, present PDF readers lack these.
Whatever other "mobile" formats come into being, relying on a publication format which presumes a fixed, print-based output (in any of several internationally incompatible formats -- I've just learned of the US letter/A4 hybrid though I've also instantly forgotten its name) ... in a world in which text displays are overwhelmingly both electronic and fluid, strikes me as very backward.
But from memory the book is not image heavy, so converting to a text doc (or epub format) should be a very easy cut 'n paste, so the parent comment is a little bit on the ungrateful side.
Yes, I know, 37signals is a bit more respectable than most of the people who want your email. Nevertheless they're signing you up for an email list without explicitly asking you -- the email that they send back specifically says, "Periodically we'll drop you a line if we have something interesting to share." I did not check any box which agreed to that, and I shouldn't have to unsubscribe from things I never subscribed to.
Gmail hides the spam from me and it's quick filter wizard helps me hide anything else I want to.
I'm just surprised that 37signals are using techniques of "six-pack in a week"-kind of sites.
You people are stuck on the wrong side of an A/B experiment. Tough luck~
Specially in case of electronics, you buy something when its new. The next month you meet some friend with the same piece, which he got for fraction of price. And more disturbing is that at that point of time, your piece is older and his is new.
Here I am not talking about this case in particular, even I am happy to get free Getting Real.
It sounds like your problem is perhaps one of envy. You hate other people having nice things more than you enjoy having nice things for yourself. Just relax, things are going to get cheaper, and better, and that will benefit you just as much as it benefits the next guy. If you paid for something that's cheaper now just chalk that up to the cost of being an early adopter or take pride in the fact that you were able to support something in the early days that is now so successful that it can be offered for much less.
If you go to Bangladesh you can pick up entire cargo ships for free, of course they aren't terribly useful anymore, but you can save yourself a bundle.