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Why don't I get all the reader email addresses? Is it possible to see the details of the readers who purchase one's book?
Why don't I get all the reader email addresses? Is it possible to see the details of the readers who purchase one's book?

On Leanpub, reader email address sharing is opt-in, not opt-out, even if I've enabled MailChimp integration. Why is that? Can I change it?

Leanpub Support avatar
Written by Leanpub Support
Updated over a week ago

As a Leanpub author, there are two ways to communicate with your readers:

  1. Sending release notes when you publish a new book version (opt-out)

  2. Emailing your readers who have shared their email address with you (opt-in)

On Leanpub, readers have to opt-in to share their email address with you. The reason for this is explained in depth below.

However, there is a separate feature to broadcast release notes to all your readers, except those who have opted out, when publishing a new book version. This is optional, and we recommend using it to notify readers of new book versions once or twice per month.

These release notes are sent by Leanpub in an email to all readers, except those who have opted out. We also add a notification for the reader in Leanpub (at the top of the screen, on the bell), which they will see when they are next on Leanpub.

Since book versions are typically infrequent, typically very few readers opt out from getting these notifications.

So, this is the best of both worlds: you can send occasional notes to your readers, even to those who have not opted in to sharing their email addresses with you.

But why is reader email sharing opt in? I want it to be opt out!

It is Leanpub's position that making reader email address sharing opt-out is the wrong balance between reader interests and author interests.

Leanpub authors and readers are both our customers, and anything that serves one of them at the expense of the other actually serves neither.

Specifically, there are two issues here:

The Principle of Least Surprise

Places like Apple and Amazon do not give you email addresses of readers.  This is not even something that a reader would think about. Leanpub is a real store (albeit a smaller one!), not a piece of shopping cart software.  So, the same expectation applies, and there's no way that we would just violate that expectation without asking readers.  So, it's a question of "opt-in" vs. "opt-out" on the checkbox; simply providing all emails is not even on the table.

False Negatives vs. False Positives

Say email sharing was an opt-opt checkbox.  Then say someone doesn't read the checkbox and does not uncheck it.  Then you get their email address from us, and you email them.

They will think that either you spammed them or that we spammed them.

This is why opt-in is better: you can actually trust it somewhat.  You will get false negatives (i.e. you will not get email addresses from some people who would want you to have them), but that is better for you and for us than false positives (i.e. you getting email addresses that you are not supposed to get).

If our checkbox was opt-out, you could *not* trust that people who left it checked actually wanted your email.  So, for any given email you sent, there would be a high probability that a significant % of your readers would be upset with you (or us) for spamming them.

So, it is actually arguably better for you for the email address to be opt-in not opt-out.  At least at the beginning, you will be able to trust that people want your email.

MailChimp Integration

Finally, please note that we do believe that authors should email their readers--just the ones that want the emails, not all of them. This is why we have a MailChimp integration as well, to help you email readers that have opted in to sharing their email address with you.

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