75-day Getting Real book stats update Jason 18 May 2006

47 comments Latest by Daddy Radic

It’s been about 75 days since we released Getting Real, the book, in PDF format. The last update was at the 30-day mark so here’s the second update.

The book has sold between 8000 and 14,000 copies depending on how you’re counting. We’ve completed about 8000 transactions for the book, but about 730 of those were for the 10-copy license. So if we take 730 out of 8000, and multiply 730 times 10, then add those together, we’re around 14,000.

The revenue generated so far is a hair under $175,000. The book has also generated a fair number of reviews. Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to publish their thoughts.

We were originally shooting to sell between 20,000 and 50,000 (depending on how you count the 10-pack licenses) copies in the first year. Seeing that we’re only 75 days into it we’ll hopefully hit our target. Once we get a few more months under our belt we’ll share some sales charts to show sales growth, slowdowns, etc.

To answer an FAQ: We still don’t know if we’re going to do a print version yet. If we do it will be a second edition with some additional essays. We most likely won’t be taking the current version to print.

Thanks to everyone who’s purchased the book so far — we hope you’ve found it valuable. If you haven’t bought one, please get yourself a copy today. Once you buy it you’ll have it within minutes. Thanks again.

47 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Jesse 18 May 06

Congrats. I haven’t read it yet, but everyone I know that has says it’s well worth the money.

Todd Walsh 18 May 06

Interesting figures. Jason, I’m curious why you are posting this though? Also, did you decide to go PDF only to somehow make it a “greener” project. Curious, and stoked for you guys.

Sheldon Kotyk 18 May 06

I still think a DVD of one of your seminars would be a cool thing for those of us who have a team that can’t read :)

JF 18 May 06

Todd, we’re posting them to show that self publishing is a viable and profitable route for an author/company with a built-in audience. We want to encourage others to consider this route instead of the traditional publishing route.

We published in PDF because of the flexibility, mainly.

Stefan 18 May 06

Seminar-DVDs!!! That would be amazing!

Brandon 18 May 06

Not to get off-topic but videos of the seminars would be great! You could host them online, offer DVD’s or host them with a third party service. Any way you do it, I know they’d be very popular.

John Ounpuu 18 May 06

You’ve probably heard this before, but many of us fans of the book would love to see a hard copy. I know someone who paid to have it bound at Kinko’s. Lulu.com comes to mind as an option that doesn’t stray to far towards traditional publishing.

Michael Hyatt 18 May 06

I am the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. I read the book and then had our VP of IT read it. We both loved it!

We have a business imprint called Nelson Business. If you are interested in talking with a conventional publisher, please email me at my personal address above.

I think the book has real potential in the retail bookstore market. Thanks.

Michael Hyatt 18 May 06

In case my email address didn’t come through (I don’t see it in the comments), it is [email protected]. Just remove the “nospam” part.

Spike 18 May 06

Yum. Christian book publishing.


Don Wilson 18 May 06

You think these numbers are good? Think about it if you released a dvd or download-only version of your Backpack/Basecamp workshops.

I’d definitely buy a video since I’m more of a visual person.

nek4life 18 May 06

My favorite thing about the book is how it’s dedicated to me on everypage! Now all my family and friends that I’ve passed the book along to know just how important I am to 37 Signals. J/K :) In all seriousness I’ve really enjoyed the book and yes I agree seminar and conference DVD’s would be the poop. Thanks again for the great book.

phil 18 May 06

You could hook up with cafepress.com and have them print on demand (one-offs)… just a thought.

it’s hard to get suits to read PDFs.

Nick D 18 May 06

Yeah, paper books are too inflexible, too static. Almost like a website without a blog. There is no way to constantly reiderate unless you go with the traditional “edition” (first edition, seconds edition). With e-books, you can keep expanding on the ideas, make the new edition free or discounted to your existing customers. Similar to the constant reiderate in software with versions. With paper books, there is a risk of having a surplus of physical inventory if the ideas in the book become outdated. This sounds too similar to the “web apps as a service” vs “shrink-wrapped box of CD-ROMs at the computer store” methods of selling software.

Eric 18 May 06

What kind of professional publishing company solicits in blog comments?

awww, big deal 18 May 06

37s themselves have made pleas to pick up cellphone interface projects, bank software…

Todd W 18 May 06

So, how do those of us that have purchased it get the update?

Gabriel 18 May 06

Hehe Jason, reading the headline “75-day Getting Real book update” I instantly jumped to the message in my newsreader, read through the entry (twice) and was wondering, where I could download the “update”. This was before I realised that you’re doing an update on the stats ;) … omg…thanks for sharing…

Mike Papageorge 18 May 06

@Gabriel - Me too! Obviously today’s caffeine intake was low…

Thijs van der Vossen 18 May 06

I regularly give books to clients if I think the content may be relevant for whatever we’re doing for them.

When I bought ‘Getting Real’ I agreed to the statement that ‘I’m purchasing a single copy of book for myself and I won’t make copies of the book or distribute it to anyone else. If someone else wants a copy I’ll encourage them to purchase their own.’

I don’t want to do that, I want to buy a few copies of the book and give them away. According to the statement I can’t do that or am I nitpicking here?

Walker Hamilton 18 May 06

@Eric - It seems to me that this guy is genuinely a follower of and believer in 37signals’ beliefs and ideas. Does this mean that just because he’s working at a publisher he can’t be excited?

It doesn’t even seem that he would directly benefit from this as it appears he’s just a mid or low-level employee in a division that wouldn’t even be publishing this book.

Let him be excited about the idea.

JF 18 May 06

I think it’s smart that a traditional publisher would speak up and make a relevant pitch in the comments. That makes me think they’re an untraditional traditional which is a good thing in my book.

Kevin 18 May 06

I agree with JF, who says biz can’t be done through blog comments. I closed a website deal today with the guy taking a dump in the stall next to mine.

Scrivs 18 May 06

Comment of the day right there.

Sammy 18 May 06

I agree with JF, who says biz can�t be done through blog comments. I closed a website deal today with the guy taking a dump in the stall next to mine.

Kevin: I beg of you. Please do not tell us about the site.

Bill P 18 May 06

Michael Hyatt was mentioned in an American Airlines on-flight magazine article - one about people who use the ideas espoused in ‘Getting Things Done.’ it’s a good read.


I read the article on my flight to the ‘Getting Real’ workshop, and recognized him as the publisher of all the John Bevere books.

So yes, he does buy into the methodology - and 37S shouldn’t have any problems trusting him….

Geof Harries 18 May 06

Jason - I’d like to ask the same question as Todd: How do those of us that have purchased grab the update? I bought the PDF the first day it came out but have never downloaded a newer version.

JF 18 May 06

Geof, there is no content update. The update is on the sale figures, not the content.

Geof Harries 18 May 06


My mistake. You got me all excited with the post title.

PBenz 18 May 06

Jason - you may be interested in this great book called “Defensive Design for the Web” by some company called 37signals. In it, you’ll find ways to avoid having everyone think you updated the book when all you updated were sales figures (you called it a “book update”, after all).


Sorry dude - couldn’t resist!

tom 18 May 06

We bought the 10-copy license.
I even gave a printout to a consultant on a previous project I worked on. This project had failed for the same reasons described in Getting Real.

Is the followup book going to be called “Keeping it Real” ? :)

Julian Moffatt 18 May 06

Congrats on the sales guys. The book is excellent.

However, DO NOT read it while in the middle of any projects for clients if at all possible. We ended up getting very mad at all the meetings one of our clients was calling for and came within a hair of telling them to go fuck themselves. Just a word of caution for the new readers coming on board. ;)

Lewis 18 May 06

Yeah, good warning Julian. Also use common sense when mentioning “Getting real” knowledge in a job interview. I didn’t.

I was interviewing at a large bureaucratic organization and mentioned how I loved a “new wave” of software development (i.e. “Getting real”), where functional specs were minimized and such. The look of puzzlement/horror I got was memorable. And no, I didn’t get the job. *Sigh*

If you’re a “getting real” fan, maybe large orgs aren’t for you. But maybe those are the places it can do the most good. Just don’t bring it up in the interview, LOL.

Jonic 18 May 06

I’ll try again…

My name is Jonic Linley and I would like to buy a copy of Getting Real…

In an attempt to strip away unnecessary features from their sites 37 signals saw fit to exclude Paypal payments from the ordering process… I’m in the UK and I have a Maestro card… It’s a common debit card and is accepted at thousands of e-commerce stores all over the web… But you guys don’t take it…

I emailed you… You didn’t get back to me…

I’ve been in touch with Matt… He said he’d get back to me… He hasn’t…

Listen… The truth is I got hold of a copy of Getting Real from a friend… I read it in a day… I was going to buy a copy anyway, and now that I’ve actually read it I still want to buy it… You guys just need to open your coffers and my currency will gently nestle inside…

I’m just kind of annoyed at the fact that the book says that someone from 37 signals personally replies to a customer’s email as soon as possible… Either you guys have been busy or you don’t want my $19…

I read it myself in the book that it’s your policy to say “no” when a customer suggests new features (for obvious reasons), but I’m not suggesting that you make Paypal an option of payment for your products… I’m telling you… Think of the business you’re potentially losing…

If Getting Real has made just short of $175,000 then you probably don’t need my $19… But surely you must understand that if a customer wants a product, you have to allow them to purchase it…

It’s ironic really… I’ve read the book and I still want to give you money for a copy of it… You’re supposed to be agile! Listen to your customers, make Paypal a payment option and let me buy your book!

I’d love to see a print version of Getting Real, but I’m just wondering whether or not I’ll be able to pick up a copy… I’m having a hard enough time getting hold of the PDF… I’d suggest that before you take it to print that you at least make sure that it’s available to your audience…

Jesse 18 May 06

Truly a sign of a good product when someone wants to pay you for it after getting it for free, but I’m not quite sure what to think of you making it so difficult for people just to buy it

JF 18 May 06

Jonic, we don’t accept Paypal, I’m sorry. It’s not a matter of just flipping a switch and accepting Paypal.

Our credit card payment system is tied into our accounting which is tied into the personalization of the book which is tied into the creation of a unique URL and the download.

We made a business decision that we would only accept credit cards because most of our customers have them and we already have the back-end built to accept them. It’s not worth our time and development investment right now to build the systems necessary to accept PayPal.

Why don’t you ask your friend to buy a copy for you and then give him a $20 bill next time you see him (or shoot him $20 via PayPal)? You could have your own copy right now.

Tarek 18 May 06

Congrats on the numbers, guys!

One request, though: would you consider making a screen-specific pdf next time you release a book like this?

I don’t know how many people actually printed out their copies, but I know I didn’t, and the 8.5x11 with fatty white margins makes pretty inefficient use of my screen… (Although I imagine it looks great printed!)

Thanks again for sharing your goodness with us!

Rene 19 May 06

Jason, thanks for the update and congratulations on the success of the book so far. I have bought it a while ago and find it very interesting and valuable.

I experienced two glitches in the order process though, and I have e-mailed you guys about it twice on email[at]37signals and once on gettingreal[at]37signals over the past 7 weeks, but have not received a reply.

It may be a case of an overly protective spam filter getting in the way, but I’d love to get a reply, and a solution to one of the problems that occurred. The address I’ve sent my e-mails from is entered in the Email field of this comment. Thanks.

Michael 19 May 06

Someone else may have already mentioned this, but if you do a second version of the book (and please do a second version), don’t sell it as a paper book. The PDF works fine for me.

If you do a paper copy, won’t you have to deal with the publisher middle-man stuff? People who are in the know will get their hands on the book anyway. I already own enough paper books anyway, and I’m running out of places to store them. Less books, less paper. Thanks.

Jonic 19 May 06

JF, thanks for your reply…

Having read Getting Real I understand your reason for not accepting Paypal (although its ubiquity would suggest to me that it would be a smart move to make, but that’s not the point), it’s the fact that so far I’ve tried to get your attention about my not being able to get the book and I’ve been largely ignored… Matt did get in contact, and he said he’d get back to me, but he is yet to do so…

I know I can get my friend to buy a copy on my behalf (and that’s what I’m going to have to do), but I haven’t really enjoyed the way you’ve handled my question… I understand that thousands of people read this blog, and thousands have bought the book, and I am but one person, but all I want is to give you $19 for something you made that I really enjoyed… I just wish that someone could have responded five days ago when I sent my original email…

ML 19 May 06

I�m just kind of annoyed at the fact that the book says that someone from 37 signals personally replies to a customer�s email as soon as possible�

Jonic, sorry for the confusion and the delay in getting back to you. We usually do support through our support email, not via our blog comments. I did intend on sending you a second follow up response (In the first response, on Wednesday, I mentioned I needed some time to see if a workaround was possible). Just wanted to make sure you got the right info. Guess we got it all out here though. Good luck.

Dmitry Chestnykh 18 Jun 06

> What kind of professional publishing company solicits in blog
> comments?

Michael is the publisher who GETS it. Read his blog.

Daddy Radic 12 Jul 06

I’d like to review your book Getting Real for my blogsite. Any chance? Check me out at drblogstein.com, scroll down to the EXCLUSIVE Interview with Randall Radic.

Let me know.

Randall Radic, aka Daddy Radic, aka Father Felon

Daddy Radic 01 Aug 06

Dear 37signals,

I’m still very impressed by the sales if your pdf book. May I ask a very specific question, please? To what do you attribute your download numbers? Publicity? Random surfing and subsequent hits? In other words, how did people know you had a book for sale?

Thanks for your time.

Daddy Radic

Daddy Radic 01 Aug 06

Dear 37signals,

I’m still very impressed by the sales if your pdf book. May I ask a very specific question, please? To what do you attribute your download numbers? Publicity? Random surfing and subsequent hits? In other words, how did people know you had a book for sale?

Thanks for your time.

Daddy Radic