When I'm on the phone with John, he calls out to an assistant to Slack him a document. Seconds later, an outline for Launch, is in my inbox. "This is the story of a book," it begins. "It's also the story of books in general: how they're written, sold, and distributed."
Like many August ideas, Launch grew out of a desire to do his own version of a cool thing he liked. He was a fan of reported, narrative-driven shows like Serial, Planet Money, and Start Up, particularly the way they covered events that happened in the recent past but then gradually caught up to the present in real time. (Similar to the way the plot threads in Go and The Nines overlap.) The process of telling the story influences the way it unfolds.
"I decided to start writing my own book," he says, describing the inception of both Arlo Finch and Launch. "And it was really almost simultaneously that I realized, 'OK, if I am going to write this book, that's a new thing for me to be doing and I'm going to have 1,000 questions and this would be a good reason to start recording those answers.'