What if I wrote a book?

For the last couple years, I’ve been answering your science questions on What If.

Today, I’m excited to announce that the What If? book is coming!

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions will be published September 2nd by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Starting today you can pre-order it from your favorite bookseller (Barnes & NobleAmazonIndie Bound).  There are also foreign editions, including a UK and Commonwealth edition and a German edition.

As I’ve sifted through the letters submitted to What If every week, I’ve occasionally set aside particularly neat questions that I wanted to spend a little more time on. This book features my answers to those questions, along with revised and updated versions of some of my favorite articles from the site. (I’m also including my personal list of the weirdest questions people have submitted.)

Preorder today to get a copy as soon as it comes out!

1,099 thoughts on “What if I wrote a book?

  1. Is there a link to a DRM free? Or at least PDF or ePub version for sale?

    If not this will be yet another book I BUY (I pay for things, amazing I know), then have to download when it gets stripped of crappy DRM!

    Or if the author says after a while that he will release a DRM free version then Ill just wait and pay for it then! (dont mind buying WITHOUT a discount if its got no crappy DRM)

  2. What’s the best way to buy the book so that you make the most money (and not intermediaries between you and me)?

  3. Is there really nobody out there who can say what the differences are between the two English editions of the book?

  4. The book is up on Audible.com, read by Wil Wheaton. See tinyurl.com/wilreadswrandall . May I say something to the DRM-bewailers?

    A. The whole thing is still up on the site, in HTML, for free.
    B. You’re SUPPOSED to be GEEKS, who can DECODE that shit.

    If you don’t like the DRM on Audible.com, take a cassette recorder and let it sit next to your iPhone speaker until the whole thing is on tape, or go to what-if.xkcd.com/archive and read it aloud yourself.

  5. That big unlabelled blue section above the United States on your map is called “Canada”.

  6. Are there red spiders? I’m not buying (well I might) if there are no red spiders. I miss the red spiders. Every M,W, & F I hope to see a red spider or a velociraptor and there are no red spiders or velociraptors. (Though today’s turtle stack was interesting but it was no red spider or velociraptor.)

  7. Hey!
    In 2015 Milan will host the XXXIV international exhibition “EXPO 2015″. You’ll find tons of inspiration for a lot of comics, both in Italian civilization and in this XIX century’s event; moreover the theme is “food”, so you’ll be authorized to abuse of stereotypes about “Italia – pizza – spaghetti – mandolino”.
    I can provide you a comfortable accomodation (it’s not easy, the city will be full of XIX century’s visitors) and organize the Book Tour in some amazing location – just for a signed copy of the book.
    Too many good reasons to miss it. I’ll be waiting for your reservation.

  8. Seeing I have enjoyed your webcomic for ages I would want to buy the book just to show support but sadly your publisher does not seem interested. My account with Amazon is in the UK but the Kindle version is only available for the US?
    Why Kindle if I can have a printed book you may ask? I am now located in Japan, were strange enough you will only sell the Japanese translated version and shipping from US or UK is expensive.

    Not a very global launch.

  9. Got mine electronically through Google Play Books today! Loved the appearance on Colbert Report. Reminded me to go get this (stupid family forgot to get it for me for my birthday).

  10. I can’t figure out how to buy this book. I heard about it on NPR today and think I’d enjoy it, but I haven’t found a link to purchase it.

  11. I heard about this book and website on NPR today and have enjoyed the few comics I have read. Unfortunately I haven’t found a link to buy the book. Do I have to order it through Amazon or such?

  12. When will it be out in Klingon? What is the shipping cost to Triton Base…wait, you’re not supposed to know about that.

  13. Someone who owns the Kindle version… is it of decent quality ?

    Guess there will be many diagrams and figures, so I fear it will awful, as already happened in some other occasions.

    Yep, i know i can download the extract, i wanted an opinion on the whole.

  14. What units does the US edition use for temperature, weight, length and volume? Metric and/or SI? Fahrenheit, ounces, and feet?

  15. Where can I buy an epub version to read it with my ebook reader? I’m in the EU. Doubleplus, if without DRM, otherwise I would have to strip this “function” to be able to read the book.

  16. Fellow Canadians…instead of complaining about being excluded, which is becoming a national pastime for Canada, use a wonderful new technology called the internet and download it off amazon.com to your Kindle for FREE! ( if you have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited)

  17. Pingback: Xkcd | Sense the Science

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  19. Ok, firstly I live in Canada too, and I’m a librarian, and Kindles suck. They almost never work in our library system, only the stuff you have to buy from Amazon, and have DRM, and have a backlit screen which is hard on the eyes, and I want something more tangible anyhow. As for two editions of English, yeah well, there is American English, and the Real English spelling of words. I’ll probably buy a copy for me and another for our circulation, if and when they become available here.

    …and you just know the ReCAPTCHA thing isn’t going to be right the first time.

  20. For those who want the territory X digital version, but they can’t get it because they are living in territory Y: use a VPN service hosted in the target territory. There are free ones that will suffice (since you don’t need a lot of bandwidth to download a book), or you can usually get a trial of a pay service. A web proxy hosted in the target territory may do the trick also. C’mon, this is just a tech problem…you can handle it!

  21. Just got the Audible audio book version. Awesome. Well read, too. Audiobooks/radio – the one media you can consume whilst still doing something useful. Guilt free!

  22. Canada is part of Britan’s asterisk. It’s unlabelled just like the other commonwealth countries. Calm down – don’t get your tuques in a knot.

  23. For those folks located outside the US: You might investigate a nice free VPN Chrome extension called Hola. Allows your browser to have various other earthly origins.

  24. I knew about this book for a while. Thanks to Amy Dallen and her Talking Comics vlog, I found out the other day that the book was released, and I ordered it from my local bookstore. It arrived Tuesday, and I stayed up until 1am reading the first fourth of the book, despite having to get up at 5am the next (well, the same) morning. It was worth it. Buy and enjoy!

  25. Thank you for allowing those of us who have spent years living at the poles to live a little longer in Chapter 1. I’ve been following your comic for about 5 years now because it’s awesome. Thanks !!!

  26. I really enjoyed your book but on page 234 line 1, in between character numbers 12 and 13 there should be a comma its really bugging me

    how it is now: 1000,000,000
    how it should be: 1,000,000,000

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