A strange trend has developed on social media where people share pictures of technical books they have recently purchased. Sometimes, they share photos of shelves of books they’ve accumulated over the years. This technique obviously works better in print because there are not many people sharing screenshots of digital books. It’s also very difficult to put digital books on shelves. I’ve heard from many that ordering books in print helps with retention, and this is my own experience. It also helps show the world that you’re wealthy enough to afford not only the books but also the aforementioned shelves.
I’d share a photo of my shelves too, but they’re mostly filled with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other non-technical books at my current reading level.
Perhaps for some this word of mouth marketing is meant to show support for the author(s). For others more vain, it may simply provide current updates to legions of adoring online fans (who likely are too busy to notice and might have you muted anyway). At the very least, it shows that you know how to shop on Amazon or visit a bookstore.
Whatever the reason, I am guilty of this habit too. I’ll be guilty again when my Phil Seamark DAX Signature Collection arrives shortly (I ordered his Basic book and the new Pro book co-authored with Tom Martens at the same time). I’ll continue to be guilty in the future with books that have not been released yet.
Once you’ve decided to post a photo of the book online, it’s helpful to select a persona that you’ll broadcast to everyone that falls somewhere along this scale:
The last time I did this, I tried to get creative and show the back cover. If your goal in sharing is to generate interest in a Power BI book like The Definitive Guide to DAX (2nd edition), there’s much more to help market the book if someone catches a glimpse of the back.
Does the work stop there though? No!
Here is the part of the process that I eventually came to terms with:
Ordering, receiving, sharing the photo, and putting the book on a shelf is only the first step. There’s actually work to do afterward.
Step 2: Read the book
Step 3: Share your knowledge of the book
Share your knowledge? The words and pictures between the covers is knowledge maintained only by you when you read a book and keep what you learned to yourself. Instead, show social media, write reviews, create blog posts, make videos of some technique learned, or promote the knowledge gained in any way possible after you’ve read the book. Let authors and the public know how you’ve benefited after that initial purchase, not just that you’ve bought the book.
My goal in 2020 is that after a few days or weeks, I share about how the book benefited me–how I applied or could apply it–not simply telegraphing that I have it. I hope that others do the same and create blogs, videos, and reviews to further the collective knowledge of their technical communities this year.