It is 21st century – internet, web portals , blogs, forums are the resource points of today. With broadband and Google – one would surely think books are obsolete as a media for learning. On an average day, there are hardly any web designers or programmers or just internet savvy people would get the time to sit and read . Personally, I often don’t get the time to read the daily newspaper – it’s always so rush rush … what with deadlines, meetings, traveling and voice chat.
A few years back even there used to be dedicated portals for different topics and subjects providing detailed tutorials expressing step by step instructions for numerous techniques and problems . I have learnt photoshop from reading many a tutorial from Pixel2life , Spoonno many a time. In the current day, blogs have replaced most of such sites … people still provide tutorials but now through blogs, with not just the steps or instructions but also expressing there viewpoints and comparing it with related ones. Forums also help in the learning process , even though in a scattered way and often by just posting snippets of code or via to and fro by several members / readers.
So are books still a viable source for knowledge – primarily in the case of web development topics ? Why should they be still be considered as an alternative ? Is it worthwhile to spend around 30-100 USD on a hard bound book when simmilar knowledge can be obtained for free just by using 2-3 hours on the internet ?
For one thing , books are printed material which can be carried anywhere and does not require an internet connectivity or the PC where you might have downloaded the tutorial . Since it is a physical item , you do not have to worry about the blog / website from being inaccessible / down . Books are something that you own and you don’t have to search for it everytime you are in need of the reference. ( It has often been my experience , quite frustratingly , that the blog / site i was reading is inaccessible ,
even though i agree really large sites has less downtime ). Books are also very planned and compact , which is hardly the case for forums topics / comments and somewhat also possible in blogs . Even though good blogs are often nicely categorised and cataloged , they do not compare with the structure and systematic disbursement of the topic in the case of a hard bound book. You may often find a random good article on one topic in a blog , but you are more likely to find constantly coherent advice if the book is by a good author . Books also lack the problem of missing images , and extremely disturbing adverts all over the place ( as always accompanies by any popular website / blog ). A blog or forum can also be plagued by various distracting and often irritating comments by spammers of less qualified webmasters. And finally and quite importantly , a book requires much more attention and interest to read through where as seeing a blog , a developer might be tempted to simply grab and copy paste the required code and use it in his project and not actually learn anything worthwhile from author; whereas in the case of a book, even if someone tries the same , he would have to type it out and in the process might even learn something 😉
Saying all this , i am not trying to say that books are better than blogs or forums or anything of that sort , but i do believe that books do still provide lots of value to a person who is still in the process of learning – especially web development and designing. In the past 2 years , i have bought multiple web development books from Sitepoint.com , Packtpub.com and Amazon.com and we have bee creating our own collection of books , which is available for all our designers here at Websys.