How Do I Choose the Best Computer Software Books?

Gabriele Sturmer

Many computer software books can teach you how to use computer programs, and they are readily available online and in stores. Some are geared toward novice programmers while others aim to teach experienced software users advanced skills that novices don't normally use. To choose the best computer software books, you should consider the book's teaching format, the experience level the book expects you to have and the book's physical or electronic format.

Some books are easier to read than others and may include images that walk you through the process of learning a specific computer program.
Some books are easier to read than others and may include images that walk you through the process of learning a specific computer program.

Some books provide an easier-to-read format than others and may include images that walk you through the process of learning a specific computer program. If you are a visual learner and like the structure of step-by-step instructions, the best book for you will be one that visually guides you through using the software and provides explanations for each action taken. In addition to the visual format, you will need to determine how well the book lays out its material. Absolute beginners usually prefer that the material starts with the basics, but more advanced users may prefer a book that mixes basic material with more advanced concepts. If you're not sure about a book's format, you can read user reviews to get a better idea of the book's offerings.

The level of the material is another important factor to consider when you choose computer software books. Some computer software books for absolute beginners aim to cover a limited amount of material that prepares the reader to use a program's basic functions. Although these books may be helpful if you only want to learn the basics, they may not be the best choice if you want a book that provides more value for its cost. The best choice for most users is a book that starts with beginner's material and moves on to intermediate and advanced concepts in an organized manner. Some books may be split into sections to make it easier for various levels of readers to follow.

You also should determine whether you want a physical copy or an electronic version of the book. Many physical books come with bonus disks or website codes that provide video instruction or software training, although some electronic versions are including additional content, as well. If you want to read your book on both an electronic device and in a hard copy format, some major publishers now include a free electronic version on a website or on a compact disc (CD) that comes with a physical book.

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Discussion Comments


If you get a copy of some computer software from a friend and want to learn more about it do you think it is best to try and find a free file online about it or is it better to just to buy a book about the software?

I did some preliminary searching for information on the software my friend gave me and only managed to find some hard copies of the computer software book I needed. I don't have a lot of space around right now so I would really prefer a digital e-book.

Does anyone know a good place that keeps archives of computer software books?


A lot of higher end computer software will already come with a very detailed book if you purchase the full installation pack. I remember when I picked up the Adobe Creative Suite and it came with what amounted to a college textbook or small phone book.

I found that the manufacturer's book in this case was incredibly detailed, but was still geared for those who had some working knowledge of the software. I suppose for the price of the software the company assumed you would know the basics.

I also ended up picking up some supplementary books to help me that focused on certain features of the software. If you know what you want to focus on there is a book for you out there.


@pleonasm - Another good tip for people who are worried about money is to research for tutorials online.

There are hundreds of really good tutorials for just about every program you can imagine. Sometimes they are even better than books because they are very up to date.

Often there are full manuals for the program available through the official website for free as well. If you have an e-reader, you can just download these free books as a pdf and study them that way.

I pretty much taught myself how to use a vector manipulation program from online tutorials. Now, every time I need to know how to do something I just pop it into Google and search.

Someone, somewhere has always been kind enough to create a tutorial about it.


Computer software textbooks can be very expensive, especially if you are buying the latest copies and trying to keep up with all the newest software. Going to the library and getting out whatever they have is a good idea, particularly if you are looking for books for beginners.

You aren't likely to need a learners book for later reference, once you have learned the ropes of a program.

So, I recommend saving your money for the more advanced books, which you will probably need to check again and again.


@sunnySkys - That sounds like a good system. The last time I needed a book about computer software I went to my local library and asked my librarian for help.

She asked me a lot of the same stuff this article mentions, such as my experience level. Then she directed me to a few books that turned out to be just what I was looking for.


When I'm looking for a non-fiction, informational type of book I always check book reviews. I find it very helpful.

First, I check online bookstore listings to look at the consumer reviews. This is helpful to see what every day people who may or may not be in that particular industry think. Then I like to check websites that are specifically dedicated to that subject matter. This is helpful to get a more expert review of some books.

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