Battery used Battery charging

Low-tech Magazine: The Printed Website

Read Low-tech Magazine with no access to a computer, a power supply, or the internet.

The printed website. Images by Adriana Parra.
The printed website. Images by Adriana Parra.
View original image View dithered image

After 12 years, Low-tech Magazine finally makes the jump from web to paper. The first result is a 704-page perfect-bound paperback which is printed on demand and contains 36 of the most recent articles from the website (2012 to 2018). The printed website was designed by Lauren Traugott-Campbell as part of her internship at Low-tech Magazine.

Book Design

The articles in the books are also on the website. However, we have partly rewritten and improved some articles, updated all references, and added more and better images. This first book contains a selection of 257 illustrations in black & white. An ebook edition is also available.

Why Paper?

Obviously, the books can be read when the solar powered website is down due to bad weather. In fact, the content can be viewed without access to a computer, a power supply, or an industrial civilisation.

A printed website also serves to preserve the content of Low-tech Magazine in the longer run. Websites don’t live forever, and the internet should not be taken for granted.

Printing is done on demand, meaning that there are no unsold copies (and no large upfront investment costs). Our US publisher works with printers all over the world, so that most copies are produced locally and travel relatively short distances. Note that it takes 3 to 5 work days to print the book.


  • How to Build a Low-tech Website?
  • We Can’t Do It Ourselves
  • Ditch the Batteries: Off-grid Compressed Air Energy Storage
  • History and Future of the Compressed Air Economy
  • How Much Energy Do We Need?
  • Bedazzled by Energy Efficiency
  • How to Run the Economy on the Weather
  • How (Not) to Run a Modern Society on Solar and Wind Power Alone
  • Could We Run Modern Society on Human Power Alone?
  • Heat Storage Hypocausts: Air Heating in the Middle Ages
  • Why the Office Needs a Typewriter Revolution
  • The Curse of the Modern Office
  • How to Get Your Apartment Off the Grid
  • Slow Electricity: The Return of DC Power?
  • Power Water Networks
  • Fruit Walls: Urban Farming in the 1600s
  • Reinventing the Greenhouse
  • How to Build a Low-tech Internet
  • The 4G Mobile Internet that’s Already There
  • Why We Need a Speed Limit for the Internet
  • How Sustainable is Stored Sunlight?
  • How Sustainable is PV Solar Power?
  • Restoring the Old Way of Warming: Heating People, not Places
  • The Revenge of the Circulating Fan
  • If We Insulate Our Houses, Why Not Our Cooking Pots?
  • Well-Tended Fires Outperform Modern Cooking Stoves
  • Modular Cargo Cycles
  • High Speed Trains are Killing the European Railway Network
  • Power from the Tap: Water Motors
  • Back to Basics: Direct Hydropower
  • The Mechanical Transmission of Power (3): Endless Rope Drives
  • The Mechanical Transmission of Power (2): Jerker Line Systems
  • The Mechanical Transmission of Power (1): Stangenkunst
  • How to make everything ourselves: open modular hardware
  • Electric velomobiles: as fast and comfortable as automobiles, but 80 times more efficient
  • Cargo cyclists replace truck drivers on European city streets
  • The solar envelope: how to heat and cool cities without fossil fuels
The printed website. Image by Adriana Parra.
The printed website. Image by Adriana Parra.
View original image View dithered image

Low-tech Magazine 2012-2018, Kris De Decker, ISBN 9780359478330, 704 pp., Second edition: November 2021. Ebook edition.


  • A second edition of this volume is available. It has almost twice as many images. The links and info on this page have been updated.
  • Three more volumes have been published, as well as a thematic book series. See all print books and ebooks.
  • Patrons get free access to ebooks, as well as early access to print books at a reduced price.


To make a comment, please send an e-mail to solar (at) lowtechmagazine (dot) com. Your e-mail address is not used for other purposes, and will be deleted after the comment is published. If you don’t want your real name to be published, sign the e-mail with the name you want to appear.


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

@ 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:


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: 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.

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!


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!



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 Danilevsky

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!


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 Between you two I get most of my decentralization itches scratched :)

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 ?



Hello, 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!