October 12, 2011
Moving to electronic books

I love reading and I love books.

This is a picture of some of the books Michele and I have accumulated. This is after we have donated yearly to the local library.

Even though we both have Kindles, I still prefer to buy paper books. Can't really put my finger on why, but I still prefer a paper book in most circumstances. I do read a lot on my Kindle and am impressed by how quickly it's come to change what I expect out of a book.

Recently, I decided to learn how to program Ruby on Rails. My friend Yoshi, recommended a book to use. Obviously, I could have bought it electronically and had it in seconds, but instead I made a point to go to a store and buy the book. I was sure to check that it was the latest edition.

I've been humming along with learning for a bit and hit a stumbling block. Something didn't match what the book said. I got frustrated and chatted with Yoshi. After looking a bit, he said, "Aw crap, you ran into the rails 3.1 change. They fundamentally
changed the way css and javascript files are stored and generated." I was able to find some of the book errata online and move past.

This week I was continuing to work and bumped into another problem. Once again I couldn't get an example exercise to work. After two hours I finally found someone else with the same problem and learned that .rjs no longer worked and I needed to use jQuery instead. I had wasted two hours again, because my paper book was out of date.

On the left is the printed version and on the right, the electronic version.

This is where printed books clearly fail. Technical and instructive books simply get out of date too fast these day.

The book I'm reading is from Pragmatic Programmers and they offer a great program for people with the paper versions to get electronic versions. If you go to their coupon page and prove you have a paper version, you get a huge discount on the electronic version. I now have DRM-free version in PDF, Kindle, and iPad formats.

Textbooks, I'm liked reading you over the years, but your day is done. I'm an electronic convert.

Posted by michael at October 12, 2011 08:05 AM