The future of computer books

It doesn “t take a rocket scientist to notice a serious decline in printing of computer books let alone computer magazines. I enjoy reading books on software and visit the nearby Barnes and Noble book store at least twice a month. During the last three years the number of book cases that display computer books substantially shrank.

Today, newly baked programmers prefer Google to books. They don “t realize that Google is OK when you know what you are looking for, while books can give you a new perspective on what you are planning to do.

Publishers don “t want to print books that no one wants to buy. But today I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

During my today “s visit to B amp;N I noticed a series of book on the shelf on digital photography. I “m one of the legions of people who are thinking of replacing a point-and-shoot camera with a digital SLR like Nikon D90. There were about ten different thin books on that shelf, and I picked D90 one. It was about 65 pages thin. I quickly skimmed through the pages learning that comparing to a pocket camera one of the main advantages of D-SLR is the ability to change lenses. On top of that, these cameras use a small mirror that allows you to see exactly what you “re shooting plus you can make more shoots per second. Not much information for a $25 book.

Than, I picked a similar looking book about more expensive camera – Nikon D300. Boy, was I surprised! This book had the same text as the D90 one. The same intro to what “s D-SLR, the same sample photos. The only difference I noted was the picture of the camera itself plus a couple of pages showing a little bit different controls.

Why literally the same books have different titles? Wouldn “t it make sense to publish one book for D90 and D300 highlighting the difference in several pages? Nope. The secret was that each book came with a DVD, which contained 80 minutes of instructional videos! Here we go! The printed part of the book didn “t really matter. It was a compliment to a video that apparently would teach you specifics of the camera you “ve chosen.

See where I “m going?

The new generation of computer programmers doesn “t want to read either. They want to watch a mooovie. It can be a Youtube video on how to do something, it can be a screencast. The material has to be consumed as easy as possible.

But since not everything in software can be videotaped, the next generation of computer books will still include a couple of hundred pages. Maybe some code samples and short instructions should go there.

Remember those 1500-page Bibles on software? I declare them officially dead. 1000 pages? Dead. New generation of programmers suffers from ADD and short attention span.

From now on, a 500-page book is called THICK. Five years from now, 200-page software book will become a de-facto standard. But they will come with DVD “s where the authors click through all examples that were mentioned on paper.

Wiley Publishing has come up with a series of books called “24-hour trainer rdquo;.

It “s not the same idea as “C++ in 24 hours rdquo;. I guess, they meant to say that you “re buying a trainer that “s with you 24 hours a day. Each book is a set of short lessons with an instructional DVD. My hat off to Wiley who figured out the trend even sooner then O “Reilly! Welcome to the future!

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