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!

1,102 thoughts on “What if I wrote a book?

  1. There is an excelent selection of lava rivers close to where I live but poor postal service. Would it be quicker to get the book delivered by lava?

  2. Oooooooooh Sweeeet! X-mas present! What if you told us what the difference between the American and the UK and Commonwealth edition is, so we Other (also non-German) foreigners know which one to pick. :) American $16.52 / September 2 / 320 pages, £14.99 / September 4 / 336 pages. Hm. 16 pages of wonderful stuff that the American censorship could not stomach, but UK/Etc will just use European non-uptight, non-creationist, un-American relaxedness and common sense to handle?

  3. If I wanted to pay extra could I have the package delivered by a Velociraptor riding a Lava board down a river of lava at high velocity?

  4. Would there be a difference between using an African Velociraptor and a European Velociraptor if this includes an order for coconuts?

  5. If the Velociraptor that was delivering mine was takign off on a conveyor belt that exactly matched the speed of the Velociraptor’s wheels (I did mention it was a wheeled velociraptor, right?) how long will it take to arrive?

  6. Wasnt there a some kind of rule that any thread on the internet will eventually converge to a discussion on velociraptors? Ah no wait, it was lava. Well, we are on a good way.

  7. What ?! 15 euros for a non paper version, when the paper version is 16 euros ?!

    None of this prices are reasonable to me (for a book), mostly when they are sentences you found on the web.

    Pointing out the scam.

  8. What if the velociraptor were called Lava (hippy parental velociraptor units) and joined the postal service to atone for past sins? (we won’t go in to that now, we all know taking steroids to improve 110m hurdle times is wrong!)

  9. I’d prefer to preorder it rather than pre-order it, but then I’d worry about whether it had to be a symmetric preorder.

  10. @Lucas, it has nothing to do with US censorship, it has all to do with german language. Germans like to use way longer words and do things difficould and are master in inventing paperwork eventhough the digitalworld exists for over a few decades. You can’t fart here unless you send a minimum of 2 kilos of paper documents to the Steuerambt, with a triple copy to your registered grandma (for security reasons) AND notify g.e.m.a. (for in case you want to whistle a song that might be copywrighted) during said fart.

    For easy read just order an english version.

  11. Pingback: La charla TED de Randall Munroe (xkcd) | Misiongeek

  12. What’s my order ID if I lived in Saudi Arabia? and how long will the book take to arrive? =”D

  13. I posted the following comment here before:
    “I’m in India. I’d buy an eBook version directly if it were:
    1. DRM free
    2. Available for a price lower than the physical book (that should be obvious, no?)
    3. In ePub format (although PDF is also ok)

    A printed book from the U.S. is a pain to deal with in more ways than one.”

    I would really like to see this so that I can support Randall without hassles. I have supported indie content like those from Humble Bundle mainly because of the DRM free nature and reduced prices (bought xkcd volume from there even though I’ve read all the strips online). I also buy DRM free books from other publishers.

    Someone mentioned buying the Kindle edition and stripping DRM from it. I’m not in favor of supporting any DRM format even if it’s a simple process to defeat it. And really, ordering a print book from the U.S. is quite expensive and unreliable.

    Thanks for reading this, and hope this need from people who took the time to express their desire in the form of comments helps strengthen the value proposition for the buyers and for Randall.

  14. So… what’s the chance of a fair ebook version that’s not Amazon-locked? I realize it’s convenient to use the Kindle store but it also is incompatible with everything else. Could you ask the Humble guy for help? Given that they released the xkcd book.

  15. I’m a velociraptor and for all of you asking if I can deliver the book past the lava, on wheels while riding the conveyor belt in Argentina….the answer is yes….I can, I used to play waterpolo.

  16. I would have preordered instantly, but will have to wait until it is released as epub. Won’t swap my Reader for a Kindle or Nook.

  17. Wait, question. Are normal delivery methods typically fatal? Because the way he phrased it, adding the hopefully, that seemed to be what he was implying.

  18. Will the book contain adult language? I have a 13 year old nephew who would love the book, but my sister will not approve of f-bombs and the like.

  19. @Keyman – Nooks can handle epub, yes. But “normal” epub readers (like my Sony) cannot handle Nook epub. There a second DRM layer on them, as far as I’m informed.

    Oh, and this is what B&N thinks about me pre-ordering: “We’re sorry, but this product is only available within the U.S.”

  20. Are the 16 pages because we put the u in “colour” and “favourite”?

  21. Very late to this party, but I just noticed the comment about e-books and not wanting to support DRM. Kindle books, currently, are not necessarily DRM. You don’t have to necessarily strip anything. I’ve published via kindle, and there’s a button you press as to whether you want DRM on the book you are publishing or not. Pretty sure that Mr. Munro, like us, would click No. So a kindle version is not automatically supporting DRM. The price issue and what’s available in what countries, I certainly can’t address.

  22. jm on May 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm said:

    I’m a velociraptor and for all of you asking if I can deliver the book past the lava, on wheels while riding the conveyor belt in Argentina….the answer is yes….I can, I used to play waterpolo.

    But Argentina is next Australia underneath the equator and so your velocityrapter wheels will be going backwards up the lava flowing counterclockwise down the drain of the water polo field ….. Unless you have an AC-powered electric conveyor belt ’cause they all use a cosine wave in Antarctica instead of the conventional northern-hemisphere sine wave.

    (If a velocountryraptor mates with a velocityraptor do they lay a suburb? )

  23. >Wasnt there a some kind of rule that any thread on the internet will eventually >converge to a discussion on velociraptors?

    yes, it’s called mnemonic’s law

  24. Ah, I can’t wait to buy it! Everyone, please do NOT buy from Amazon. I don’t know if you have heard about the Hachette-Amazon hassle going on but it’s hurt thousands of authors and readers. Furthermore, we can’t have Amazon monopolize the book industry and force more independent bookstores to close down. So please don’t buy from Amazon!! Barnes & Noble and your local indie book store (they will often order it directly for you if this book is not in stock) are great choices.

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