How Book Sprints work for sponsors

Manual examples

Last week I worked with a Dutch organisation by the name of They are a small hosting provider based in Amsterdam. They wanted to bring their crew to Berlin to make a book on Basic Internet Security and they wanted me to facilitate the Book Sprint. We got a small team together and sprinted the book over four days. Started Thursday, finished Sunday. Actually one day earlier than expected. 45,000 words or so and lots of nice illustrations.

Illustrations in Basic Internet Security

You can see the book here (all generated with the Booki installation at

And improve it here:

The following morning, the book went to the printers and then was presented the next day in print form at the International Press Freedom Day in Amsterdam.

Reading the bound book at International Press Freedom Day

The presentation at International Press Freedom Day was complimented by a little bit of PR from FLOSS Manuals and a little bit of PR from Greenhost. The attention seems to be working very well as we are getting thousands of visits on the manual and we are also getting a lot of very nice press attention. Now, I don’t care one way or the other about press attention except that in this instance it is working for the book (I believe people need to know about Basic Internet Security) and for the sponsor that put their muscle behind getting the book created. That makes sponsoring of Book Sprints a very good marketing opportunity for organisations. There are of course some issues raised here, the first being that this will only work for the sponsor if they keep their marketing-speak out of the book itself. If they put marketing texts into the book they sponsor, they are going to look very very bad – and let’s not forget it’s free content: if someone thinks your marketing rant is too much, probably they will remove it. Let the book do what it has to do and get the kudos by saying you made it happen. Anyway… here’s some links from the last hours of comments about the book:

Lastly, this kind of press is also good because it raises the profile of the book and makes it known to people  who can help improve it and distribute it. Take, for example, translation. The profile of a freely licensed book can make it seem a worthwhile prospect to translators. Not many people want to spend the needed hours translating a book that won’t be read, but if it’s a book with an established high profile then it’s a better proposition. To demonstrate this by example, we have already two offers by groups to start the German and Farsi translations:

In addition, in the links above, you may have noticed the link to a torrent file on Pirate Bay. We didn’t create this torrent – someone noticed the book, downloaded it, and made the torrent. Hence others are helping a lot to get the book out there. ..nice.

So… think about what kind of book your organisation may want to bring into the world. Think of a great book that would help make the world a better place. For example, are you a design or typography company? Want to make a book about How to Make Fonts with Free Software? Are you a law firm? Want to make a book about basic rights in your country? … you get the idea…

Circumvention Book Sprint II

I just finished facilitating a Book Sprint about circumvention called “How to Bypass Internet Censorship”. We spent 5 days outside of Berlin updating the book we first created in a Sprint in 2008. It was a ‘re-sprint’ if you like and was extremely successful.

New Update –

Right now, you can buy this book from and you can also contribute to it through the FLOSS manuals installation of Booki –

It will also be available shortly on the FLOSS Manuals website – I just need to finish the integration with Booki.

The first version of this book was extremely successful – being translated into Burmese, simplified Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Spanish, French, Farsi, and Spanish. Most of these were also distributed in perfect book form.

English, Russian, Arabic, Spanish versions

The book-formatted PDF for the above books, including those with bi-directional text (Farsi, Arabic etc) were all generated using Booki.

The new book is *much* better with beautiful illustrations and cover provided by Laleh Torabi  and many new chapters, updates of old chapters and some new sections. Buy it now or wait a few days for the free version…