An Interview with Paul Bradshaw, Author of Scraping for Journalists
Published Sep 04, 2013 by Len Epp
Paul Bradshaw is the author of several Leanpub books, including Scraping for Journalists, 8000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way, and Data Journalism Heist.
Paul runs the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, where he is a Reader in Online Journalism at the School of Media. He is also currently a Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism at City University, London.
This interview was recorded on August 15, 2013.
Len Epp: I’m here with Paul Bradshaw, who runs the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, where he is a Reader in Online Journalism at the School of Media. He is also currently a Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism at City University, London. Paul has written and contributed to numerous books, in addition to his work for journalism.co.uk, the Guardian and the Telegraph’s data blogs, and other media organizations. In addition to running the Online Journalism Blog, he is the founder of HelpMeInvestigate.com, a platform for crowdsourcing investigative journalism. Paul also works as a freelance trainer and speaker.
Paul coauthored the Online Journalism Handbook, and the third edition of Magazine Editing: In Print and Online, both of which came out in 2011. He is also the author and coauthor of a number of Leanpub books, including Scraping for Journalists and 8000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way, and Data Journalism Heist.
In this interview, we’re going to talk about Paul’s work and interests, as well as the subject and development of his Leanpub books. At the end of the interview, we’ll also talk about his experiences using Leanpub, and ways we can improve Leanpub for him, and for other authors.
So, thank you Paul for being on the Lean Publishing Podcast.
Paul Bradshaw: Thank you for having me.
E: My first question is, how did you become interested in journalism?
B: Well, I guess I grew up reading newspapers and being very much aware of the news as a kid, and I was seen as quite unusual at college, as being someone who read a newspaper. So, I obviously stood out in that sense. That probably says more about the college I went to, than me! I was really more interested in writing, and actually art, when I was a kid, and I kind of drifted into journalism, so to speak, because I could write and that was a job that I ended up doing.
I actually wanted to work in radio, I didn’t have that high an opinion of journalism when I was first working in it. But what I enjoyed when I became a journalist was that ability to hold power to account, and that you could represent your readers and get results in a way that they couldn’t always get themselves, individually. So that’s really what gave me a bug, if you like.
E: What was your first job in journalism?
B: I worked for a publisher when I was about 17, just as an admin role, I worked for another magazine when I was about 19 in a similar admin role, but my first full journalism role was a magazine, reporting on the internet, and I was very lucky to get a job as an editor, and I grew to become group editor, and other editorial operations.
E: Why did you eventually make the switch to academia?
B: I wanted to leave the job I was in. I’d completed one major project, of building a series of websites, and I wanted to move one, and a job came up at the university, what’s now Birmingham City University, and I originally applied for that with the intention of it being a bridge to a freelance career. But I actually really enjoyed teaching and learning new skills. I never planned to go into academia, it was something that I did initially as a bridge to something else. I still enjoy now learning new skills and trying to communicate those in the books.
E: You run the MA in Online Journalism, as I mentioned in the intro, at Birmingham City University, and I watched a video in which you say it’s about “defining online journalism” and “shaping the medium for the twenty-first century”. Can you talk a bit about what the course offers, and how it’s different from what journalists were taught, or needed to learn, maybe even just a few years ago?
B: Well, I think a lot of journalism education has been set up to meet quite a uniform news industry. And that’s all changed now. The news industry is trying to reinvent itself, in reaction to different ways of consuming information, and different ways of advertising as well. So, what I wanted to do with the MA was, I guess the realization I had was that sending out students with identical skills was not going to help the news industry or the students themselves. So, the people who are going into the news industry now are the people that are finding out how it can be different. They’re the people who are innovating in forms like audio slideshows and live-blogging, the people who are doing investigations with data journalism, the people who are engaging with online communities.
So I wanted to create an MA which was worthy of a Masters-level certification and allowed students to define the medium and to push the boundaries of the medium that they were working in. The way that it does that is it gives students an introduction to a broad range of key skills in online journalism, but gives them a bit of a nudge to experiment and to produce high-quality, in-depth work.
So there are parts of the course where they have to experiment. There’s an element which is called an “Experimental Portfolio”. It’s a space where they can try something that might be intimidating to them, but they’re not going to necessarily fail if they don’t pull it off, as long as they learned something in the process.
And alongside that there are more traditional portfolios of work. There’s a lot of working with clients, so they take industry problems and research those and try new ways of addressing those, and that might be anything from, how do you make online videos successful, to how do you train citizen journalists. And they all come out with very different skills and unique representations, a lot of them build reputations on the course, and so far every single one of them has found a job, which is incredibly unusual.
E: That’s fantastic.
B: Most of them at strategic levels as well, which is also encouraging. So they are genuinely going into positions where they are shaping where the news industry goes next.
E: That’s fantastic. Can you explain a little about what “data journalism” is?
B: Data journalism is quite a broad range of skills, really. In a nutshell, it’s using data, structured information, at some point in the process of getting or telling a story.
That’s quite a vague definition, but in practice that means someone could be collecting data in a way that might be hard for other people. It might be that they might tell a story about that data, or public data, again in a way that other people aren’t doing. Or it might be that they use new storytelling techniques like data visualization, interactives, databases, things like that, to communicate the story. Like I said, there are quite a wide range of skills involved potentially, and quite often there are collaborative projects that allow different people different skills to do that.
E: Is that also what you mean by “computer assisted reporting”?
B: Really, it’s grown out of computer-assisted reporting, for me. So, computer-assisted reporting came to prominence in the US in the late 60s, through into the 80s and 90s, and for me that’s using spreadsheets and databases to find stories. The difference with data journalism is that you’re now starting to do that in a networked environment, so you might be accessing data on other computers, you might be allowing users to access that data and do things with it, and make maps and so on. So it does include what traditionally has been called computer-assisted reporting, but I think it also takes in a number of other techniques. You’ve got design skills, you’ve got web development skills, that traditionally, are new things really, I guess.
E: In your Online Journalism Blog, you mention that you support experiments with “wiki journalism”. Can you explain what that is and why it interests you?
B: Well, there was a period, probably a couple years after Wikipedia came to prominence, when journalists and news organizations were experimenting with wikis as a way to, again, tell stories and engage with audiences. That was, I did some research at the time into what worked and what didn’t, and different ways of doing that.
It has been a really interesting way for news organizations and journalists to collaborate with users. You’ve got all sorts of knowledge out there in what used to be an audience, a traditional audience, which now you can access and publish as a news organization, and wikis were one of the earliest attempts to do that in some sort of structured way. And you had some interesting examples where newspapers would say, “We’re going to do a wiki on our local music scene, and can you help us add entries for all the bands that you know of, and the venues”, and all the rest of that. It’s something that you wouldn’t necessarily do as a journalist, but is a tremendous community effort of sharing information and expertise, for something which everyone benefits from and enjoys.
I think you’re seeing less of that now. I think the novelty of wikis has worn off, and people are interested in other things now. But potentially still, I think increasingly you now get specialist, either wikis, or people use Wikipedia. So for example if you’re a Lego fan, then there’s Brickipedia for you, and if you’re a Star Wars fan, then there’s Wookieepedia. There are all sorts of specialist wikis now, and I guess if you’re interested in one of those areas, you will contribute to one of those wikis.
E: Can you talk about helpmeinvestigate.com, how it got started, and some of its successes?
B: This came out of some research that I did for a book chapter. I was asked to do a chapter for the second edition of a book called Investigative Journalism, which is edited by Hugo de Burgh, and they asked me to do a chapter on investigative journalism online. And in the process of looking at that, and writing this book chapter, I looked to a few examples of crowdsourcing, and it really struck me as — by the way crowdsourcing is the idea that you gather information from a number of different people, so you allow users somehow to contribute to an investigation, or a story — and when I looked at crowdsourcing and investigative journalism, I found some really interesting characteristics about the engagement, for example.
There was a particular example of an investigation by the Florida news press, which had tremendous levels of traffic, the traffic on that story was higher than pretty much any other story on the site, that they’d ever done, apart from hurricane season stories. So, that’s relatively unusual for investigative journalism. Yes, you get big scoops, and yes they make a lot of noise, but in terms of how many people actually read that, you’re always struggling with investigative journalism to get people to care about something that’s important. So, the engagement around that was really interesting.
And the other factor that struck me was you could use crowdsourcing to do investigations that traditional news organizations would not normally do, in other words, unfashionable subjects, subjects that didn’t have a mass audience, or that didn’t warrant a particular amount of effort. And so it opened up new possibilities editorially. That kind of led me to come up with the idea for Help Me Investigate, which was really a way of systematically testing, how could you crowdsource investigative journalism, and was there a way of doing it more successfully? You know, what would be the techniques for doing that?
And after a year or two of developing the idea, I got some funding from Channel 4, a television company in the UK, and we launched that in 2009. It’s been running for four years now, in fact it just celebrated, although without any noise at all, its fourth anniversary, and we’ve just been investigating different questions, anything that people raise or approach us with, and it’s just a network of people. It’s completely non-profit, it’s completely voluntary, there is no business model because there are no costs. But we work with news organizations including the Guardian, the BBC, local newspapers, newspapers in Germany. We’ve done all sorts of different things with different organizations, and it’s really just a way of trying to use network technologies, the internet, to put people in touch with other people who might want to help each other investigate something.
B: It doesn’t surprise me at all. In fact, funnily enough, I was predicting, for the last two years I’ve been saying that Facebook, Amazon, or Google will start buying news organizations at some point. What surprises me is that it isn’t Amazon, it’s Bezos. But having said that he’s not the first, I can’t remember who it was, but one of the founders of Facebook bought one of the news magazines in the US, I can’t remember which one. There are other examples of either people who’ve made their money from the web, or organizations, web companies, buying traditional media properties. I think that’s going to continue.
It does open up some interesting possibilities in terms of, what he’s going to actually do, and that’s probably more interesting than the sale itself. But, any print organization I think has got a very difficult challenge in trying to straddle new opportunities, and where things are growing, while also not losing the massive revenue that still comes from print. And also, ultimately, they’ve still got people in jobs that they can’t just chuck out the window, so you’ve got a whole workforce which is something you’ve got to work with.
E: So you think this is a potentially good thing?
B: I’m always hesitant to say something is good or bad, because it’s always going to be mixed. So I guess that would be my prediction, if anything. I think it is a thing, which will have both good and bad consequences, and we will always make mistakes, particularly with change, but we learn things along the way.
E: Switching to the subject of your books, the first book you published on Leanpub was Scraping for Journalists. Can you explain a little bit about the book, like for example what “scraping” is, and why it’s important for journalists?
B: Scraping is the process of getting information from a series of web pages or documents online, or even just one web page. And how you get that information from that web page or those web pages normally involves creating some sort of script, which is a set of instructions. So that’s scraping: scraping is essentially writing a set of instructions to grab information from the web.
Now, there are a number of ways you can do that. You can get tools where you click buttons that write those instructions, and you tell it what information you want, and where it is, and you kind of press play, and off it goes and gets that. But if you want to get something that’s more complicated, or for example it’s in PDFs, or it’s in spreadsheets, then you might have to actually write something more advanced, and write some programming.
The book really takes you across those tools and those skills. It starts from a very simple script, which is just using Google Spreadsheets to grab information from a web page. It takes you from that to the kind of click-and-play tools that will scrape pages for you, and then right through to learning some programming to write scrapers.
Now, the reason that that’s important, is that obviously there are millions of pages of information out there that are potentially of interest to journalists, and a lot of those pages include government data, information about health, education, all the sorts of issues that we’re supposed to be reporting on as journalists. It allows us to check facts, it allows us to identify problems, it allows us to identify trends, it’s not just hard news, it can be softer subjects like sport and fashion, and quite often scraping is a really useful technique for getting hold of that data, when you either couldn’t get a hold of it in any other way, or the alternative methods take a lot of time, like Freedom of Information requests. So that’s really what scraping is about and why it’s important.
The other part of the book is, I’d kind of been trying to teach this to journalists for a while, and I’d found that there was a disconnect between how journalists saw scraping and how programmers saw scraping, and basically journalists quite often come from a humanities background where they learn in a particular way. Programmers, I’ve noticed, operate differently. They’re more like scientists. They work through trial and error. They borrow from each other. They don’t expect to learn everything, and then that body of knowledge is all they need to know.
E: It’s interesting, you have a great line in your book where you say, “If you were used to getting things right first time in school and college, get unused to it”.
B: Yeah, absolutely. That was the hurdle, I think that I saw in doing this in training, and also learning it myself. I’d been trying to learn scraping, and I’d read books about programming languages, and I’d be kind of like, “Well, this is great, I know how to write a script that adds two numbers together, but how does that help me get data from that web page?” And I could see that journalists, that they want results, and they’re not going to read a whole book on a particular programming language, and then feel satisfied that they can write a scraper.
So it’s as much about that as anything, about a way of learning, and about saying, forget the idea of getting everything right, you’re going to get things wrong, and actually the fun of scraping — and I really enjoy scraping, because it is like solving puzzles, and the fun is making mistakes and solving them, and coming up against problems — it’s Sudoku, really.
E: I have what might be a very specific question about that, actually. I was wondering, for example, if you wrote a story based on some data that you’d scraped, and then, let’s say, one of the subjects of the story later changed the data on their website, how would you establish some kind of audit trail, proving where you got the data from?
B: That’s a really good question, actually. I imagine the audit trail would be the scraper and essentially the metadata that that scraper recorded at the time of being run. So you would be able to prove that, this scraper ran at this time, and it grabbed this information from this URL. Really, if this was a court case and they had to seize computers, or whatever, those computers would be able to back up that information, and it would be very — say for example the other party says that you falsified that, again, they could check, well is there a way that this could be falsified, and all these logs have not been manipulated. So that would be, that’s getting into too much depth really. All you’d have to do, practically speaking, is going on Google and search for a cache, or go on the Wayback Machine. Or their computers would be seized, and you’d be able to look at the previous versions of the pages that were on, and when changes were made, and so on. So there’s always going to be an audit trail on both sides.
E: In the introduction to the book, you mention that it’s being published in progress, and that readers can influence what gets written and how. Can you give me an example of how reader feedback has influenced what you’ve included in the book?
B: This week I’ve had a tweet from someone who said that there was a particular page that I’d used as an example in the book which was no longer online. So I went back in and I’ve changed that passage in the book, now, so that doesn’t include a mention of that. Someone else suggested all kinds of alternative ways of creating a particular process in the book, so I’ve added quite a lengthy section at the end of that chapter which says, this is what this person says, here’s another way of doing it, and it’s much better because of X, Y and Z. People have picked up typos, people have picked up things that are changed, people have made suggestions of different ways of doing things.
Another thing that’s happened is new tools, people have suggested alternative tools. I had a great case where someone in, I think it was Portugal or Spain, where they said that Google Docs or Google Drive, in their language, doesn’t use commas, it uses semi-colons. So you get these small idiosyncrasies that I added into the book. There’s a little alert box, saying, “If you’re using the Spanish or Portuguese (and there’s another language as well, it may have been German), then use a semi-colon instead”. Just small things like that, which you’d never be able to do in print.
E: That’s great. And the kind of thing, especially if you’re learning programming for the first time, the kind of thing that could really frustrate someone. Because you see you’re copying what you’re being shown, and you know you’re doing it right, but even the difference between a comma and something else can break everything that you’re doing.
B: Exactly, yeah, and even, you can try and anticipate people making mistakes, or misunderstanding, or having problems, but having people raw testing the book and saying, “This doesn’t work” or “I made this mistake at first”, so then you can add just a little passage, or then you might want to rewrite a sentence so that it’s clearer. That makes a big difference.
E: Your second Leanpub book, which you coauthored with Carol Miers, was 8000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way. Can you tell me what led you to write this book, and what it’s about?
B: It’s a great story, at least to me, I think it’s fascinating. This came out of scraping. To cut a long story short, I scraped details on the Olympic torch bearers, and there were 8,000 of them — this is for the 2012 Olympics in the UK — and the official website published details on all of the torchbearers, so I scraped that information and started to investigate all sorts of things about them. So we did dozens of stories about the torchbearers, everything from who was the oldest torchbearer, through to these stories that appeared on the front pages of the national newspapers, about corporate torchbearers.
The main story that we told as a result of this was that a number of corporate sponsors of the Olympics had nominated their own executives to carry the Olympic torch. What was important about that, was that when the Olympic torch relay was announced, in London, they made a promise that it would be about people who were inspirational, who had sporting achievements, who were young — 50% of the torchbearers were supposed to be young — 95%, I think it was 95% of the torch relay places were going to be made available to the public. It was very much about celebrating people, everyday people, inspirational people, and so on. It wasn’t about executives. And in fact the Olympics minister said that they had issued guidelines to these sponsors saying, do not nominate executives.
Now it turned out that dozens and dozens if not hundreds of executives carried the torch. And it was clearly being used to build corporate relationships. Corporate partners got them, and so on. And that was a story that I found early on in the process of looking at the details of the torchbearers. But as the torch relay progressed, I wanted to tell a deeper story about how that had happened. Because, it’s one thing to say, these corporate executives are carrying torches, but it’s supposed to be for normal people, but it’s another thing to actually tell the story of, why did that happen, and why is it important?
E: You tell a very moving story in the book about an athlete with brittle bone syndrome, who ended up not being able to carry the torch, and then discovered that there were all sorts of people who hadn’t done, and he had to go through a very long process of being nominated, and rounds of assessment, and was disappointed to find out that he wasn’t included in the relay, even though a bunch of people who hadn’t done anything nearly as sporting or inspirational were included in the relay.
B: Yeah, and that was what it came down to. As the torch relay came towards its final weeks, I wanted to write the full story of why this mattered and what had happened. So we started the book with the story of Jack Binstead, who was I think 17, so he fitted the criteria of youth, he had broken 60-odd bones since he’d been born, and he was probably going to compete at the next Paralympics. He was nominated by the maximum number of people, but he didn’t carry the torch, and as you say, on the day that he probably would have carried the torch, there was this long list of marketing executives and chief executives and political donors, all of whom were carrying the torch instead. And, I mean it’s sad, but I recently found out that he’s retired from the sport, he’s not going to be competing at the Paralympics, he’s decided to quit wheelchair racing, and you do wonder, had he been successfully nominated to carry the torch, would he have retired?
So, that was why this story mattered, and I’m glad you think it’s moving, because it certainly moved me, and moved me to set up the book on the site so that people could get it for free, but any purchases went straight to the Brittle Bone Society, and Leanpub was kind enough to volunteer to donate the Leanpub share to the Brittle Bone Society, so 100% pretty much goes to them. And we also closed the book with the story of a person who did carry the torch, but also found the experience sullied by the fact that all sorts of people who carried the torch when he was, got to carry the torch because they sold the most bottles of Coca-Cola that month.
E: It’s that kind of thing that moved me about it, the contrast between a person who had strived to do things of Olympic kinds in order to carry the torch, and then the, I don’t know, the kind of ugly vanity of someone who’s merely doing it so they can brag about it at a dinner party or something like that.
B: It’s a shame really, and even after all of that, there were probably a good thousand or so torchbearers who were never named on the site. I know at least one of those is an executive at a sports retailer that was never named, and never identified, and his two daughters managed to carry it as well.
B: It’s a family affair. But yeah, it was a really interesting exercise to try to tell the full story and detail all the various twists and turns of that.
E: I can see you’re working on a new book, Data Journalism Heist. Can you talk a little bit about that?
B: This is me trying to keep it simple, after doing ‘Scraping for Journalists’, which was very, it’s quite a long book, it takes you from a very simple starting point to somewhere that’s quite advanced. And I wanted to do something which was very introductory, very basic, very short, was for people who were nowhere near scraping really, and were just interested in data journalism generally. So it’s going to be a very short book which teaches a couple of simple techniques in spreadsheets to find basic stories in a simple dataset.
It’s probably more like a very long article than an ebook, and the idea varies, but hopefully a lot people will use that, will get interested in data journalism, and then they might want to start to explore some of the more advanced techniques like scraping. I’m hoping to do some other books around other data journalism techniques as well.
E: Switching gears a little, I’d like to ask you some questions about your experience with Leanpub and the Lean Publishing process. Can you tell me how you found out about Leanpub, and why you chose us for your publishing platform?
B: A colleague of mine at Birmingham City University, a guy called Andrew Dubber, he used Leanpub to publish, well he still uses Leanpub to publish all sorts of books on the music industry, and I’d been looking at ebook publishing for a while, and he’d mentioned it in conversation. I liked the idea that you could continually publish, and that was the main selling point for me. I’d obviously looked at other ebook publishing platforms and so on, but the way that this seemed to be designed to allow you to start publishing and then keep adding to something, that was the key thing for me, particularly for something where technology is changing. In fact, I myself was still making that journey and still learning things. So that’s how I got into it, really.
E: And did you know Markdown before you started using Leanpub?
E: What was the experience like learning it? Was that a barrier to you, or was that just something you picked up easily?
B: It was a barrier. Not a huge one. I think I’d stumbled across it a little bit, and I don’t think, I don’t know if I’d ever used it. It was something that made me think, well that might stop a few people. Occasionally it will still trip you up. I think it’s, once you’ve kind of got the basics of it, it’s largely just things like images and having to remember, I think you occasionally have to think, “How do I do an image again?” And you have to look at another chapter that’s got an image and just copy the syntax and paste it into your new chapter.
And I only recently discovered the Asides, the different things that you could use to create information boxes, or question boxes, or discussion boxes. So I went back all the way though the book finding things that were, you know, “that’s really an information box, I’m going to change that now”. So yes, there were all those hidden gems as well. That’s probably more of a selling point, actually, the special codes for Asides.
E: And Markdown of course is a great way of making it so that you can write one single source text, but then output in multiple ebook formats, and even HTML of course, which is what Markdown was designed for.
B: Funnily enough, I use it now for other things as well. I’ve just finished writing a book chapter for a print book, and I wrote it in Markdown, copied it into a Markdown converter, and then copied it into, if you like, a word processing document, because it means I can type it on the train, just in a text editor, and not have to think about that.
E: That’s great for us to hear! I see you have a Facebook page for ‘Scraping for Journalists’. Is engaging directly with people who have already bought your books important to you, and is there more we could do at Leanpub to help you engage with your readers online?
B: It’s definitely important to me to engage. I guess the Facebook page doesn’t do a lot of that. It is a channel for people to point out things, or ask questions, but because I’m a lot more active on Twitter, I tend to get people contacting me, or occasionally through email, so the Facebook page is really there as a point of contact, more than anything else, and I’ll just publish anything that I find about scraping will get published on there, but nothing much else happens there I guess. Although I did use it to announce the new chapters, and I guess that’s probably where it could be better integrated in Leanpub, in that you could say, “when I publish a new chapter, don’t just email readers, but update Facebook, or update the Twitter account if there’s one for that”.
E: That’s very interesting.
B: So, for example, I’ve got a Twitter account for the ‘Online Journalism Handbook’, but I didn’t think it was necessary to create one for ‘Scraping for Journalists’. Having those different ways of being updated, and then also, as part of that, thinking about it, when someone buys the book, they obviously make a choice whether to get updates. Now they could choose to either get that via email, or they could follow the Facebook page, or they could even follow the Twitter account, from that single point. That might be a different way of approaching it.
E: That’s very interesting. Is there anything generally that you think we could improve, or any other features that you’d really like to see?
B: I guess, I had to go off to find a Markdown editor, converter-type-thing, so having something on the site, where you could type in Markdown and see what it would look like, that might be quite a nice addition, because I imagine that is an obstacle for a lot of people.
I was thinking about something. I actually downloaded the purchases, the spreadsheet of purchase data, and the one piece of data that was missing, this is quite geeky, but the minimum price and the recommended price.
B: I would like to be able to know what they were when someone bought, because I’ve actually done quite a few experiments in seeing what happens to buyer behavior, depending on the pricing. So if you’ve got a minimum price and a recommended price, and they’re different, what do people do?
E: Ok, that’s great, that’s actually something we’d given a little bit of thought to, and it’s validating to hear that authors out there are actually thinking about that.
B: I think pricing is really interesting, actually. One of the reasons I used Leanpub as well was to learn about ebook publishing. Because I’m also dealing with journalists who are looking at this themselves. And that kind of, the idea of having a minimum price and a recommended price is a really interesting dynamic. For example, I found, for a while I made them both the same, and I noticed people almost never paid more than the recommended price, when it was the minimum. But if they are different, people do spend more than the recommended price.
E: That’s very interesting.
B: And obviously a lot of them spend the minimum. And when I did look at those figures, it averaged out still at the recommended price, but it was interesting that people would pay more, as well as less, when there’s an option.
E: Have you done any special one-day promotions, or anything like that? Like, where you lower the price or give out coupons?
B: No. I may well do that in the future. What I’ve really done is more of a gradual price-increasing. I think for the first week I said it was $4.99, so anyone who buys it in the first week, when there’s only one chapter, it was $4.99, and then it went up to $9.99, and it would increase as more chapters were added. Even though obviously everyone got all the chapters in the end. So it was kind of me saying, “I know that you’re buying something, and you don’t know yet what it’s going to be, so I’m reducing the price to recognize that”, and also recognize that the people who buy it at the start are quite important.
So I’ve not really done any price promotions in terms of reductions or anything like that. I might look at that in the future. At the moment sales are pretty constant, and have been throughout the thirteen months or so. But I may look at it in the future.
E: Well, that’s about all the questions I had. Is there anything you’d like to add?
B: No. I think you covered it all. Quite a wide range of ground I think we’ve covered there.
E: Well, thanks for a great interview, and for being on the Lean Publishing Podcast, and for being a Leanpub author!
B: And thank you as well, as I said it’s very educational.
Originally published at leanpub.com.