How to buy the right (not just) IT book

Buyer’s Remorse is not what we really want when we want to shop for IT books. A poor choice of IT book can cost you your time of reading it, as well as exam scores if you really depend on it. To avoid this problem, you need to find the right one, and know if it’s really the right one.

BTW, if possible, buy e-book instead of buying the printed ones, here’s why:

  • You can search inside e-book easily, like what you do on google!
  • You get free e-book updates (depends on publishers, but O’reilly does give updates), but you don’t get updates on printed copies.
  • They don’t suffer from wear and tear
  • They are easily accessible from the cloud, not like the big heavy printed books!
  • You can read on phones, iPod, iPad, tabs, computers, mainframe, whatever that can open ePub, PDFs!

E-books may cost more or less about the same as printed copies, but they give you some significant advantages that people easily overlooked.

Is it the latest and newest?

IT industry changes frequently, every single year APIs, syntaxes, libraries, bla bla bla, change. Buying a not up-to-date book is not what you want for the bucks you spent, let alone they are printed, which means they can become obsolete in the next few years, depends on the books la.

Check their publication date and revisions if possible, if they are really old and yo managed to Google a newer revision online, refrain from paying for the book, unless they are dirt cheap 😛

The CDs inside are not important, you can always get the latest version of softwares and codes from the Internet. CDs are easily the most obsolete stuff, true story.

What others think about it?

Don’t buy a book simply because it’s a book, not all books are created the same and therefore you need to know what other people (or guinea pigs) wrote about it.

Find out the ISBN of the book and Google it along with “Amazon”, because Amazon has the biggest review database I have seen so far, don’t read from individual bloggers or publishers’ testimonials.


Once you found the Amazon page of that particular book, look at the Customer Reviews star rating and click into it and read through the reviews if possible. In this case, Scott Berkun’s Myths of Innovation gained a pretty impressive ratings.

The higher the number of customer reviews, the more reliable the overall rating is.

E-books Formats

You knew PDFs, but what about ePubs?

If you are on computer, get PDFs; if you are on mobile devices, try ePubs. It looks better on mobile devices, you can change font size, font family, themes (Black on white, Sepia or white on black) and sometimes, line spacing, which gives you lot more satisfying reading experience.

Of course it’s best when the publisher gives you access to all formats once you purchased the e-books.


IT books, whether they are text books or reference books, choosing a wrong one can cost a lot more than just money in the wallet. I have bought some shitty books before and I dare not doing the same error over and over again. Take these safety precautions and thank me later.



Author: Anonoz Chong

Web Developer in Kuala Lumpur. Computer Science student in MMU Cyberjaya. President of IT Society MMU Cyberjaya. Rubyist.

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