Dan's Musings

I Love Paper Books

I recently learned that Barnes and Noble is doing well again.

I used to love going to Barnes & Noble as a teenager on my lunch breaks. I worked as a lifeguard in downtown Naperville, Illinois. I would go there to read or to find a book. Being surrounded by all those books gave me comfort. I'm glad they're doing well again.

People I know often don't like paper books. They'll buy kindle over the real book get the PDF or even take pictures of a page. I myself have done so. It is much easier to read books on devices, and I get the desire for convenience.

However, I always prefer to buy my books (usually about programming or technology) in print, even if they're available for free online as PDF. One reason is that I want to pay the author for their work. Another is that I find reading paper books more comfortable, despite their bulk. But the real major reason for me and the reason I get something out of it is this: print books are much easier to share with others.

If you want to share a book it's hard to do so when it's digital (unless it truly is freely available). But even if it's freely available it just feels so much better to hand someone a book and ask them to read it. "Working Effectively with Legacy Code", "the Pomodoro Technique", "Design Patterns", these are all books I've borrowed from others or loaned out myself.

Finally, books are easily readable by children. Paper books have had such a powerful influence in my life, starting from a young age. The most influential book in my life computer wise is easily "How to Solve it by Computer", and I read parts of it when I was young. Nowadays kids that age might have cell phones, or they might not, depending on how old they are, the preferences of their parents, etc. Paper books are books that I can share with my children right now. So many things children cannot experience yet because they are not online yet.

For these reasons, I collect paper books. I have Scriptures, knitting books, survival guides, and fiction. In particular, though, I collect paper tech books. When I really want to learn something, books are the best way for me. Paper books.

Here are some of the computer and productivity books that I am pleased in my collection, in order of their influence on me:

There's something magical about turning information into a physical object. Paper has some serious advantages. It doesn't run out of battery. It's not DRM locked, but doesn't need to be because printing on paper is expensive enough that it usually prevents pirating. It's very easy to use, even for the technically illiterate.

The next time you want to educate your team about a new language or share some concept with your friends, buy a paper book.