Webmaster Tutorial Menu
Tutorial Home
Life before .htaccess
You have to start somewhere
Becoming a Webmaster
The steep learning curve
What to look for in books
How many hats?
Technical Job Description
Linux or Microsoft?
Standard web stuff
Basic HTML
Frames and/or Flash?
Site submission
Negotiating Links
Validating your HTML
Web safe fonts
Web safe colours
Different screen & monitor sizes
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
'Nix specific stuff
Choosing a 'Nix hosting company
Web Logs Demystified
Web Log Status codes
Limitations of robots.txt (and the power of .htaccess)
cost  effective,   fast  loading,   lightweight,   high  return  websites

How to choose webmaster self-help books

Why buy a book when you can get it on the web free?

Many times I have found myself going around and around with a particular problem, have tried forums, have experimented and mucked about and then, in frustration, found myself looking for a book to help me out.
Once I've bought the book, and I'm part way through it I've looked back at my behaviour and laughed "Why didn't I buy this sooner?"
To be fair, there are good answers to that question:
*    Some books are hideously expensive (especially true depending on which country you live in and the relationships between your country and the country of origin);
*    Some books are not very helpful;
*    Some books are out-of-date;
*    Some books are targetted at a level above or below your's;
*    Some books encompass more or less than you're looking for.
The "bash-your-head-against-a-brick-wall" technique that I employ before I go in search of a book does also have a few really effective side benefits:
*    I get a pretty average to good understanding of the subject before I invest my hard earned money;
*    I sometimes find out that the technology I'm delving into is not the best one to provide the desired outcome (eg. I'd be better off looking at javascript and not css);
*    Once I have the book there are many more "ah-hah" moments that I may have missed if I'd not had a go myself first.

Finding the correct book

*    Ask people you know (but then if you know them you can probably ask them to help you with the problem).
*    Ask your web hosting company for help with the problem or a link to a website or the name of a book on the topic.
*    Find a popular forum (with lots of members) that seems to cover the topic you're interested in, and ask for help with your specific problem.
*    At the same time ask if anyone knows a good book that can help.
*    Using the responses, have a look on amazon.com for the particular book or books.
*    Most major works have had some sort of reader feedback given about them. Read the feedback - even the seemingly trivial. You can often get a feel for the style of the book and the particular slant (eg. on a scale from novice to guru) from the reviews.
*    The reader feedback often says "...but if you're interested in xyz then you're probably better off with Fred Nurk's blah-de-blah".
*    Look for the definitive books - there are usually two or three and explore each of these (as above - reviews etc).
*    You now have a shortlist for further investigation (online in forums "Has anyone got xyz and what's it like?" or in a shop).
*    If you have the luxury, go to the best stocked technical book shop in town and have a flick through the books on your shortlist. If one of the books you expected to find is not there, ask them why not and when they last had it and when they expect to get it and if not, why not.
*    Price - I find it really hard to part with over $100 for a book no matter how good or tax-deductable it is - but sometimes I do think "What's it worth to me?".
Sometimes at this point (leafing through the actual books) you realise that you need to be on a different tack to the one you started on. For example, I once went looking for a book on PHP / MySQL and found myself becoming very interested in books on the broader topic of "LAMP" as this particular author called it (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). A nice book, but it can wait - or can it???
[Content of this page last reviewed: 12-Jun-2004]
_ _
copyright © 2001-2007 bpresent
Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Copyright and Trade Marks
Sydney +61 438 726 669