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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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Books appear to still be popular in software development

Whenever the subject of software development books come up, a group folks jump in to talk about their absolute favorite books, and a lot of people hop in to talk about how books are no longer useful. They talk about how quickly they become out of date, or how they've become passé.

But from what I've observed, software developers are still very much into books. Book-related posts on always attract a lot of reads. When people post about books they want to recommend, so many developers click through to read.

When people talk about books, it's hard to know what inferences to make. People probably lie about how much they read because the ability to get through books is a positive trait or habit, like getting to the gym. Some might also follow along with the crowd in expressing how books are no longer relevant. So I can't say I'd really trust what people are saying, but I trust my observations that people click through and read posts about books at a great rate.

Click-through doesn't measure a whole lot, but it certainly implies an interest in the subject. Tweets from @ThePracticalDev about books get up to 7.5% click through, higher than just about any other posts, and they always perform above average. Clicking a link is also a private action. If someone clicks through to read something, they aren't sending social signals or being judged. Presumably this process is unadulterated by social pressures the way a public comments might be.

I would assume that physical books are steadily losing popularity in favor of e-books, but long-form writing in this space still attracts great interest. I've personally found the last couple software books I've finished to be of tremendous value, for what it's worth.

Top comments (13)

lschultebraucks profile image
Lasse Schultebraucks

I read books - physical books and ebooks.
I prefer Software Development books to be physical, because you often do not read through this kind of books and so software dev ebooks are not very practical to study. I also have some fiction books I want to have printed, because I want them to stand in my shelf.
On the other hand I also read a lot of ebooks. Most of them I probably will not read twice but I prefer ebooks in some situations too, because they also have some advantages like mobility, lower price and that they do not take any space in your shelf.

pbeekums profile image
Beekey Cheung

It'd be interesting to know if developers actually prefer e-books or print. For the best books, I actually prefer print. These are the books I want to go back to and look certain things up from time to time. Flipping through pages is somehow faster for me than trying to remember the right search term.

plunkettcss profile image
William Plunkett

I prefer print. They are much easier to thumb through, look at several sections at the ~same~ time, to find parts you have highlighted, they just feel better in your hands. AND they look better on the book shelf.

For books that I just read for pleasure, straight through, and probably won't read again - eBooks are fine. I especially prefer ebooks when flying.

zignd profile image

I have a thing for printed books, holding it and flipping through pages is a pleasant experience for me, but I still consider eBooks valuable when I'm reading fiction in English, as it tends to use more complex words, so the dictionary at a finger press you have on Kindle becomes very useful easy to use.

adammc331 profile image
Adam McNeilly

As someone working on a book proposal struggling through a roller coaster of "is this worth it" or "is this a waste of my time" this gave me life again. Thank you!

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

That's great to hear, good luck!

subbramanil profile image
Subbu Lakshmanan

We have a book review program at my work and we read a book related to software development and meet and discuss once in a week. I have asked the dev community for some suggestions and got loads of them.

Personally I prefer print but I do have eBooks in my library.

I agree with Ben. Just because one commenting on the book, doesn’t mean they actually read it. It’s like registering for gym vs actually working out consistently.
Reading books on consistent basis is a good habit but hard to build.

P.S: To be frank, I have a collection of books at home but haven’t read most of them. Still working on forming the habit of reading regularly.

gregorybodnar profile image
Greg Bodnar

I've started using a habit-tracking app to nudge me into reading for 30 minutes per day, which has done wonders for shortening my reading queue. I've tried to mix up fiction and not-fiction with good results over the last few months.

lpasqualis profile image
Lorenzo Pasqualis

I read ebooks and Audiobooks. Even if I love the feeling of a good paper book, I rarely purchase them anymore; they take so much space and I can't search them.

I am subscribed to Kindle Unlimited and Audible, and I go through a book a week at least. While there are many bad books out there, I find that they are generally (not always) higher quality than other online resources. The reason is that production costs push authors and publishers to do more editing and revising, and it shows in the final products.

I love books.

simplymanas profile image
Manas Ranjan Dash

Thanks for all those links. Books are man's best friend for sure..
I like print books more than e-books.
This is my list of books

kayis profile image

There is much crap out there, but also many gems.

Somehow I tend to buy physical books for work related stuff and e-books for fun.

johnpaulada profile image
John Paul Ada

I prefer physical books to ebooks. But if I had a Kindle that would be great too! :D
I love the classics like Clean Code by Robert Martin. It just changes the way you code forever.

tcratius profile image
Me, myself, and Irenne

Ebooks for me, sadly they are cheaper😥