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This is a really neat idea, I love it! I will have to buy a copy at some point. I'm also glad that the solar powered website still works!



I definitely want a copy of your book - and I definitely think the days of an 'open' or 'free' Internet are about over! Which brings me to my next comment:

I also heartily agree with your "low tech Internet" idea. Some time ago, shortly after Hosni Mubarak shut Egypt's internet and phones down during the Arab Spring deal, I proposed neighborhood MESH networks on my website as an alternative to the centrally controlled Internet we have now. The Internet we currently use is controlled by a few corporate players who can and have instituted censorship of ideas they find too threatening to their vested interests. MESH networks work independently of the 'regular' internet, are hosted on the devices of individual users, and are controlled by said users - NOT by one 300# corporate gorilla in the room.

WE desperately need DE-centralized EVERYTHING. Decentralized Internet. Decentralized power production. Decentralized farming. Decentralized manufacturing of the things we use every day.



Can a PDF also be made available for e-readers?

James M Dakin


I already ordered my copy. I also will be telling my readers ( crazy preppers ) about this in tomorrows article. Your e-mails have been saved since 2014, and I am very excited you are offering paper. I will be an eager customer of the next book ( assuming a similar price, obviously ). Many thanks.

Patrick Coyle


Glad there is another way to support your excellent work!

Cynthia Hathaway


Another blessing from LTM.
Congratulations, and here;s to being steadfast and true.

Cynthia Hathaway

Kris De Decker


@ Simon

We plan to make the content available for e-readers, however we still need to discuss how. The PDF of the book is a heavy download, which goes against our aim to lower energy use online. The more paper books are sold, the more we can invest in additional formats.

@ James Thanks for the link !



Wait, 710 pages and only 37 articles from 7 years time? Is that correct? Seems like the number of articles should be higher.

Kris De Decker


@ Tom

The articles are very long. Some have been split in two or three on the blog, in the book they count as one. Some articles are not in the book, but these can be counted on one hand.



I've enjoyed your articles for years now. My favorite has been Chinese wheelbarrow. I've always wanted to find a way and place to use it but alas I was not able. Now I live in an RV and weight and storage are at a premium.

Do you offer them in electronic format, perhaps kindle?



I would be interested in buying your book, but sadly it's only possible to pay with credit card or Paypal.

Kris De Decker


@ Michaël

Send me a private mail and I'll make sure you get the book. Find my email here: https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/about.html

@ Ken

We plan to release the book in electronic format, too, but this will take a bit of time.

Kris De Decker


The book sold 300 copies in one week, and with that we also received the first complaint that involves a badly printed book. The downside of print on demand is that neither we nor Lulu can control the print quality of each individual copy, because each book is unique and they are printed in different locations.

Before the launch, we have distributed a few dozens of books worldwide, and quality was excellent in almost every case. But if you do receive a copy that is badly printed (the book should look and feel as any other book) you should notify Lulu to get a replacement (no need to send back the damaged copy). And obviously we also like to know.



In regards to providing an electronic copy, I think that using only the .epub format would be one way to reduce file size? I only mention this as the .pdf file was explicitly mentioned above in the comments, though the content of the book might be poorly suited to other formats?

As a thought experiment... for maximum resource savings, you could just sell a copy of the site itself? Selling it this way directly as a single compressed archive file would possibly be the least resource intensive way to distribute the magazine as a complete omnibus (short of editing it down to just raw text and images).

Not really sensible given the downsides and the relative plethora of resources available (both physical and computational), but interesting to think (to me at least) from a preservation angle.

L Evans


My question is about the type of paper used. Could there be an option for acid free paper at some point? I understand the cost would likely be more, but of course it would also last longer into any impending power down reset (aka collapse).
Btw- this site is awesome. As a retired backcountry trail worker, I always considered myself to be working in the 19th century. It really wasn’t a bad place/time to be in!



This is great. I will be ordering my copy forthwith. A reference book is always welcome, especially as I prefer reading offline and your articles deserve thought and concentration.

I wonder if there could be an option for a higher-quality, more expensive version? This is the kind of book that deserves to be read and re-read for generations. After all, the information you glean in your articles is historical and won't change.

I'm thinking of proper libraries where hardback leatherbound volumes hundreds of years old are still available; even some of the Victorian children's books I have are in excellent condition. My previous experience with print-on-demand has been that you get what you pay for and for a 710-page book this feels cheap.

I'd certainly be in the market for a hard-wearing (hardback?) edition on excellent paper that can withstand marginal notes and thumbing through. It feels a bit more in-keeping with the magazine's precepts, too.

Do the rest of this website's readers feel similarly?

Kris De Decker


@ Henry

If the book keeps selling well (and it does right now) we will also publish a hardback edition. But such a book requires a large investment and it would carry a heavy price tag.

We have a limited budget and we want to make the content accessible to as many people as possible. Therefore print on demand was the best way to start.

Besides, I am very happy with the quality of the Lulu book. It obviously doesn't have the quality of a leatherbound copy, but it's just as sturdy as a normal paperback.

@ Randy

We're looking into that option. What are the downsides that you are referring to?

@ L Evans

Lulu prints on FSC-certified, acid-free paper: http://connect.lulu.com/en/discussion/33669/what-paper-will-my-book-have-for-the-cover-and-interior



@Kris: Glad to hear it! I would definitely buy a copy myself.

The downsides I was thinking of are less important for this site in particular, on further reflection; you've got a dedicated fanbase willing to try unconventional things. However, it might be difficult to convince big e-book storefronts to offer a zip file for sale next to a bunch of epub files, if you want that extra visibility (like I said, possibly less applicable here). Also, while it's possible to get the directory onto phones (maybe ereaders??), it might be something most users are unaccustomed to, and won't be able to organize into an ebook library as easily.

Doesn't mean it's not worth doing though, especially because it might be pretty easy to put together (I could also be very wrong about that)! I also find the idea of preserving it in its original format to be a very appealing concept; the web might not be something we can rely on to be arounc forever, but I wouldn't want to undervalue the format of websites because of that.



Just ordered the paper copy but have you considered publishing a microfiche copy? Microfiche is a low-tech option that i still use and perhaps others still do. I purchased the Appropriate technology library in the early 90s basicaly 1000 microfiche in size of a shoebox!

Kris De Decker


@ William

That's a lovely idea. It seems like the book could fit on 7 or 8 microfiches and sent in an envelope. Do you know of any companies who offer a digital to microfiche service?

@ Randy

If we offer a download of the website-as-it-is, it would be a free service, unless it turns out to be too much of a strain on the web server. It is an appealing concept indeed.



Sorry can't help there. I only ever purchased, never published myself. All of the microfiche I have seem to have been generated from paper copies as far as I can tell.

Cyril Danilevski


My Copy of the book arrived today. It's well made and the prints look perfect. I'm really happy that it arrived just in time to dive in it over the easter break!



My copy's arrived, but the image prints are on occasion less than clear as they're black/white duotone rather than greyscale. Is this intentional or have I got a duff copy?

My comment on the 'proper' hardback was more a proposal for creating an object in keeping with the LTM attitude towards products and durability, rather than an idea for the initial offering. I realise we have to exist in some respects inside the common system, alas!

Kris De Decker


@ Henry

That's hard to say without seeing the copy you received.

We use a special technique for the images, so they surely look "different".

Almost all are bitmapped dithered images. Bitmapping is a way to create images out of absolute black and white, and one of the bitmapping options is dithering. A dithered image is made of small squares of either black or white.

However, I have several copies of the book myself, printed in different locations, and I noticed that some copies are lighter or darker than others. In the darkest versions, some images are indeed a bit unclear, so that could be your case.

@ Cyril

Thanks for the note !



@Kris de Decker

I just got my copy, and it's awesome to have this handy. I do plan on re-inforcing the cover since it is a thick paperback (and liable to split while leafing back and forth from cool section to cool section).

I second that question about a PDF. Two things that may help with the issue:

1).Conversion to Epub will make it more uniformly available (and retain the pictures in the book)

2). Don't do a direct download of the pdf, set up a torrent file and get other people to help by seeding it. I know I will.

There are other good alternatives for serving files "cheaply" (in the energy demand sense) on my other favorite place on the internet n-o-d-e.net. Between you two I get most of my decentralization itches scratched :)

Kris De Decker


@ Santi

Reinforcing the cover should not be necessary if you receive a well-made copy.

Some people seem to expect a lower quality because of the large number of pages and the low price. However, I want to stress that the book should look and feel like any other book.

If it doesn't, please ask Lulu for a replacement, it is a very smooth process and there's no need to return the damaged copy.

I collected some images of badly printed books so you can judge for yourself if your copy is good or not: https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/how-to-recognize-a-badly-printed-lulu-book.html

zeev kirsh


zeev here. i've been reading your site since it's founding.
i'd like to buy both volumes in one purchase . please let me know. thank you



Why did you have to dither & monochrome the images in the book? Now you’re just going to have me and others not buy it because it’s not full color.

Kris De Decker


@ Paul

A full color book would double the price.

As for the dithering, it allows us to include low resolution images. Some people love it, others don't. For the next volume, we will only dither the images that need it.

@ zeev

I am afraid this will not be possible. The book is sold through Lulu, and I don't think they offer that option.



If I am going to buy a physical book of a websites articles I want full color. Not offering a full color version will just have people who really really want a full color version, making their own and using more “scarce” energy.

It doesn’t need to be high gloss, matte is fine.



Loved the book - allowed me to go through much more than I would have gone online, given I've been putting myself on an internet / electronics fast!

How is your progress on the second edition? If it comes out before Christmas I may have to get some for gifts.

kris de decker


@ George

Good to hear. We just finished the other volume and ordered a proof copy. If no unexpected problems show up, the second book should be available within 2-3 weeks.

@ Paul

Since you're the second person asking this, I actually calculated the real cost for a 710-page full color Lulu book and it's $70. It may be an option in the future, if there's enough budget to work with an academic publisher.




Like your work
If a lot of people are interested by the physical copies,
may be a crowdfunding to make a huge print-campaign ?




I just discovered your site and I think it's a gold mine!

For some years I have been in the habit of saving the articles that interest me in pfd to read them calmly later and seeing that you have thought of making books seems to me an excellent idea.

I work as an art director and I would like to suggest you to use smaller fonts on the books to make them more manageable, lighter and waste less paper.

I would like also to suggest a "custom book" where you can choose the articles to print. I imagine a very simple interface where you can flag the articles you want, the color of the cover, etc etc.

I hope I was helpful, keep it up because your work is really great, a big CIAO from Italy!


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