22 September 2013

Why I Still Read Books

Are Books Old-Fashioned?

In times of everything-online it might sound old-fashioned to favor printed books over online sources: They are usually more expensive, cannot directly be forwarded via email and there's no chance to get free updates.

I very often research (technical) topics online, which is great to get a quick overview. But where to dive in? Even to minor topics you easily find hundreds of sources, blog-posts, reports, rants and forum discussions…

Books have Higher Quality in Content and Structure

My argument pro-books is quite simple: Usually the authors have intensively thought about two issues:
  1. the topic itself and
  2. ways of describing content to their readers.

Furthermore, reviewers and publishers have provided feedback - which invariably leads to higher quality in content and structure.

Arguments are easier to follow, language more concise (and not restricted to 140 characters), overly long sentences are (often) replaced by understandable "lightweigt" alternatives…

Others Have Read for You

Amazon-reviews often help me to find appropriate books on a topic. Enthusiastic reviews are no guarantee, but an indicator.

E-Books as Compromise

Searchable pdf's (or other e-book formats) provide a great compromise - at least when they've been proofread and copyedited. I tried quite a number of self-published e-books, with mixed results.

Great Examples

Let me give you only a few of the great examples I encountered recently:

These are only a few examples where you immediately recognize the amount of blood, sweat, tears (and, of course, love for the topic) these authors invested.

Disclaimer: I write books myself. I spend hours thinking about details, asking colleagues and friends for feedback. I write "prototypes" and later replace them away with complete re-writes.