Why We Open Sourced our Books

From today we’re open-sourcing all of our books. They can all be downloaded for free, or you can checkout the source from their Github repositories. In this post I explain why we made this decision and what it means for our books in the future

Why Open Source?

Open sourcing our books is something we’ve been considering for some time. For a while now we’ve had two free and open source books, Creative Scala and The Type Astronaut’s Guide to Shapeless. These books have reached an order-of-magnitude more people than our paid books. On the other hand, we’re not making money1 from our free books, and it takes a long time to write a book. When we considered the tradeoffs we decided that the contribution to the Scala community outweighed the relatively small amount (compared to other revenues) we earned from the books. Basically, we believe there is some great stuff in our books—and our readers seem to agree—and we want more people to be able to access it.

What Happens Now?

Not all our books are complete. In the last few days we’ve pushed out updates to Advanced Scala and Creative Scala, and we’ll continue to work on the unfinished titles. Once Advanced Scala is complete, which should be very soon, we’ll turn our attention to finishing the long-neglected Essential Interpreters. In short, the decision to open source our books has no impact on our intention to develop them further.

How Can I Get Involved?

The first thing you can do is grab a copy of any of our books in PDF, HTML, and ePUB format. We ask for your email address so we can keep you aware of updates.

If you want to build the book yourself, or contribute to development, go to our Github repositories. All our books have a simple Docker based build process that should be straightforward to work with. However, if you encounter difficulties please open an issue and we’ll sort it out.

Update: 7th June 2017

We originally published our books under a mixture of CC-BY-SA and CC-NC-SA licenses. We had some objections to the use of the term “open source” combined with the CC-NC-SA license (see the comments below). We have addressed this by updating all of the licenses to be CC-BY-SA.

  1. We do make some money from donations, and from sales of paper copies of the Shapeless book, but it isn’t a significant amount. 

Like what you're reading?

Join our newsletter


We encourage discussion of our blog posts on our Gitter channel. Please review our Community Guidelines before posting there. We encourage discussion in good faith, but do not allow combative, exclusionary, or harassing behaviour. If you have any questions, contact us!