Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Self-publishing to the rescue

The new Coursera course by Princeton Professor Mung Chiang was so popular that Amazon and the publisher ran out of copies of the textbook before the course even started (see "new website features" announcement; requires login). I experienced a stockout of my own textbook ("Data Mining for Business Intelligence") a couple of years ago, which caused grief and slight panic to both students and instructors.

With stockouts in mind, and recognizing the difficulty of obtaining textbooks outside of North America (unavailable, too expensive, or long/costly shipping), I decided to take things into my own hands and self-publish a "Practical Analytics" series of textbooks. Currently, the series has three books. All are available in soft-cover editions and Kindle editions. I used CreateSpace.com, an Amazon company, for publishing the soft-cover editions. This reduces the stockout problem due to a print-on-demand model. I used Amazon KDP for publishing the Kindle editions, so definitely no stockouts there. Amazon makes the books available on its global websites and so reachable in many places worldwide (the Indian Flipkart also avails the books). Finally, since I got to set the prices, I made sure to keep them affordable (for example, in India the e-books are even cheaper than in the USA).

How has this endeavor fared? Well, more than 1000 copies were sold since March 2011. Several instructors adopted books for their courses. And from reader emails and ratings on Amazon, it looks like I'm on the right track.

To celebrate the power and joy of self-publishing as well as accessible and affordable knowledge, I am running a "free e-book promotion" next week. The following e-books will be available for free:

Both promotions will commence a little after midnight, Pacific Standard Time, and will last for 24 hours. To download each of the e-books, just go to the Amazon website during the promotion period and search for the title. You will then be able to download the book for free.

Enjoy, and feel free to share!
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