37signals Announces New Business Book

Josh Catone

A few days ago we asked via Twitter what was the last business or sales book our followers had read. We got a ton of responses and have found a bunch of great books we hadn’t heard of before. We’ll distill those down into their own post soon, but one of the most popular responses we received was “Getting Real,” the game changing business book from software developer 37signals.

The book, which was self-published in 2006 and initially sold as a downloadable e-book, outlines the business and software development philosophies of the Chicago-based company, including agile development, boot strapping, using small teams, and saying “no” to new features (creating what they call “opinionated software”). “Getting Real” was a huge success for 37signals, selling $350,000 worth of PDF copies and another $65,000 when it was released in print via print-on-demand publisher Lulu.com. The company also created a series of mini-conferences based on the book that took in another quarter million dollars.

The book is now given away for free via the company’s web site.

For a self published business book to make in excess of a half million dollars and sell greater than 30,000 copies is quite impressive, so it’s no wonder that many people are looking forward to the sequel. Today, 37signals front man Jason Fried announced their next book, tentatively titled, “Unconform.” The book is actually the third from the software development shop, which also authored 2004’s “Defensive Design for the Web.”

“Unconform” will be published by Crown books, and though a first draft has been submitted to their editor, the traditional publishing process can take up to 12 months, so we shouldn’t expect the book to hit store shelves any time soon. The book will be printed traditionally and sold in stores, but e-book and audiobook versions, and companion video content is planned. A free online version is not in the works, at least not initially (it took about a year for “Getting Real” to go from paid download to free web read, however, so anything is possible).

The new book is about “entrepreneurship, simple and small as a competitive advantage, techniques we’ve used to build our business, and a variety of things we’ve learned along the way,” says Fried. “It’s not about software or tech. This is a business book.”

According to Fried, who says that he hopes to be able to publish their book proposal on the company’s popular blog in the coming weeks or months, they decided to go with a traditional book publisher for “Unconform” because they want to reach beyond their regular audience. “We want to sell hundreds of thousands or millions of copies of this book. We think the content and the message should be heard by all kinds of entrepreneurs (or business owners / product managers) in all kinds of industries,” he said. “We think a traditional publisher can expand our reach far beyond what we could do on our own.”

Fried has an interesting post up today on the company blog detailing the process of finding an agent, pitching publishers, and signing a deal. Judging from the responses to our tweet last week, we’re sure there will be a lot of SitePoint readers eagerly awaiting “Unconform.”