Books are becoming obsolete?

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Books are becoming obsolete?

(not all of them, just technology and programming ones)


Hello fellow instructors,


A published instructor as well as published book author here. In 2012-13 I dedicated a very large part of my free time to writing a programming book. I loved that book like my baby: putting my name on something printed felt like leaving a footstep in history. A tiny step, but still.


Now I'm mostly working with video content, and I found that this format works much better for what I teach. Videos are easier to follow, they are easier to update (most of the time), they allow students to see the expected result and compare to their own. Moreover, books take tremendously more time to create. 


There are two aspects where books are winning:

1. Reading pace and re-reading paragraphs. Books make it much easier to return to a place that you did not quite understand, and then read it *really slowly*, or *several times* untill you really understood the idea. With video it is not impossible but hard.


2. "indexing" and "searching through". It is much easier to find a page with explanation than to scroll through the video. But even that could be fixed by providing script or fine-grained "TOC" in a video itself. 


Oh, and you can use a printed book when the airplane is taking off...


Are video platforms like Udemy really killing traditional IT publishing houses? I would be curious to have some numbers (like revenue of OReilly, Apress, Pact and such). What do you guys think? Is there still place for technology books on bookshelves, or they are "so 20-century". 

3 Replies
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

I think one of the downside with quickly-changing topics is they become obsolete quickly. On my downtime I was trying to learn how to code and had downloaded a book on a specific software but quickly realized it has already become obsolete. On the other hand, both of the topics I teach (airplane and drone) rely on an official FAA publication that is available for free as a PDF and it is amazingly valuable and considered the "bible" for finding information. I would be a lot harder for me to teach without that reference. 

So in short, it depends 😄 


Greg Reverdiau - Airplane and Drone Training

I think everyone learn differently. I like to have a book from which I take notes interpret wordings and that helps me to register things in my mind. I rely on Videos for understanding complex concepts or interdependencies. 

I think both will be very relavent for the whole learning experience . 

For me the best combination is the way it is taught in the classroom. 

Online course guided by a textbook , so even after they finished the course the students can refer back to the book to refresh the concepts. Then if they have difficulty understanding the concept they can go back to the video to understand it. 

Atleast for mechanical engineering- what I teach - I dont feel students will totally move away from books. 

When it comes to technology, and particularly to programming, I think books can't just stand the pace at which things change and innovate. OTOH, there are certain topics that are best fit for a book rather than a video course. These topics are way more stable in time. I think stuff like algorithms, design patterns and the like. All in all I agree with the assumption that both video courses and books (and all other learning media) have a meaning today. The difference with the past is that we rather have multiple ways to learn today, and the key is finding the one that best fits the topic and the learner mindset

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