The Bike to Work Book is to be co-published in November by Quickrelease.tv of the UK and CommuteByBike.com of the US. Authors Carlton Reid and Tim Grahl met through membership of the Spokesmen bike industry roundtable podcast.
Reid, editor of BikeBiz, said: "The media message ‘Save gas, go by bike’ is a huge opportunity for the bicycle business. But reaching bike-to-work wannabes is tough. Newbie cycle commuters don’t hang out in bike places. We plan to get the Bike to Work Book in front of this new audience through an online and offline PR campaign. With gas at $5 a gallon, it’s pushing on an open door, the mainstream media is now very open to the bike commute message."
The Bike to Work Book is a print title but it’s also planning to leverage the internet to reach a larger audience than possible through traditional book publishing. The print version will be available on Amazon.com and other booksellers from mid-November but the book will also be available as a paid-for rich-media e-book and there will be a free, cut-down version of the book available as a PDF, sent via iTunes. The e-formats will be available earlier than the printed book.
Reid has a track record in viral media campaigns. His YouTube videos have had 779,907 views. A video on ‘how to wash and lube a bike’ has had 52,000 views. Some of these instructional videos will be embedded in the rich-media e-book, alongside new video shorts on topics such as where to place feet when pedalling.
"Newcomers to cycling often pedal with their heels or the middle of their feet at best. A simple video showing the correct placement of the foot will help people get more power into their pedal strokes, getting them to work even quicker," said Reid, a qualified cycling coach.
The health and economic benefits of cycling are flagged on the book’s back cover.
Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett said: “This book could save you $3500 a year. And you’ll be lighter and stronger into the bargain.”
Transport psychologist Dr Ian Walker of the University of Bath said: “Cycling is an important life expectancy predictor. Because it becomes part of your daily routine, cycling to work helps you live longer. This book could be the most important you ever read.”
The 200-page, full-colour book’s availablity on the world’s biggest book shop means it has to be American in style and content, but the downloadable versions can be localised.
"The book available on Amazon is kinda fixed, but the electronic formats will be made country-specific so readers downloading the UK version will get a book produced just for the UK," said Tim Grahl.
This flexibility allows for country-specific spellings and riding advice, too.
"The print book is set in stone and will be mostly US in tone and spelling," said Reid.
"But the downloadable formats will be regionalised. Where Americans say ‘gas’, Brits say ‘petrol’. And the UK version will say ‘colour’, not ‘color’. The localisation of the e-book and PDFs allows us to modify comments about riding on the left or the right of the road, a possible point of confusion in a book aiming to get newcomers to cycle through traffic."
The Bike to Work Book is being promoted via a website and a podcast.
The first show was recorded last Thursday and featured Reid and Grahl talking with two of Europe’s top bike bloggers. Mikael Colville-Anderson produces the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog ("bicycle advocacy in high heels"); Marc van Woudenberg produces Amsterdamize.com.
Colville-Anderson and Woudenberg have co-written a chapter in the Bike to Work Book: ‘The Future is Already Here’, a description of what US and UK cities can look forward to when they embrace bicycling.
"In the US, cycle use is just one percent of all journeys," said Grahl.
"In Denmark and the Netherlands it’s at least 30 percent. It was inspiring to talk to these guys and just amazing to find out that the 30 percent figure is considered too low by Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The goal is 50 percent.
"I can’t imagine that ever happening in the US but remember that John Burke of Trek said last year that if the number of bicycle trips in the US grew from 1 percent to just 5 percent it would result in a $6.2bn industry becoming a $31bn industry."