How the Book Came to Be

A Look into the Publishing Process at O’Reilly

When I began to write stories for the Macintosh Folklore site ( in June 2003, I had no intention of trying to publish them in book form. I was excited by the idea of developing a website to facilitate collective historical storytelling, where a group of participants could collaborate to recollect an interesting event. I chose the format of numerous interlinked anecdotes because it seemed natural for the Web and better suited to a collaborative effort than a single, continuous narrative, allowing a tale to be elaborated indefinitely without compromising the voices of the individual authors.

After I got the initial site running in August 2003, with about 20 stories, I began to show it to various original Mac team members, and others, to gather feedback and encourage participation. When I showed the site to Tim O’Reilly, I was surprised he suggested that his company publish it as a book. At first, I thought conforming to a book format might compromise my goals for the site, but I soon realized that the site’s anecdotal structure could work in book form, and I got excited about the idea. After all, I own dozens of indispensable O’Reilly books, so I was thrilled at the chance to become one of their authors. Without showing it to other publishers, I signed a contract with O’Reilly in December 2003, promising a finished draft by June 2004.

Tim introduced me to the talented team at his ...

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