Today, in the spirit of giving, I bought myself two new books. Umm yeah the giving — they’ll help me give back to the community. My fiction consumption has been pretty dismal this year; I have a list of books a mile long to read and don’t need anymore of them. So, the day’s purchases included reference books of sorts: the Zen of CSS design by Dave Shea and Web Standards Solutions by Dan Cederholm. I’ll call them textbooks for the real world.
Web design books aren’t something I usually spend money on. I’m no expert, but a lot of the design books that I’ve flipped through seemed like they’d been written by a semi-literate twelve year-old who had discovered the view source button in Dreamweaver. I’m not talking about hardcore tech reference books (see O’Reilly’s, I’ve picked those up before), but the books that help you build a decent looking site. I haven’t gotten into CSS Zen or Web Standards yet, but I figured I’d write about them now, as there will probably never be a proper review. I can’t see myself actually finishing them, they’re more likely to become dog-earred natural extensions of my desk.
I’ve read a lot of positive reviews concerning both books, so I wasn’t too worried about picking them up. They seem to have become a sort of defacto standard for those in the know. Besides, Dave helped me out with an interview for Seal Club, so I didn’t mind buying his book. It’s kind of like going to a rock show and buying the album from the band, but not really.
So, my pre-review says that Dave’s book is full of pretty colour pictures and Dan’s book is full of black and white texty goodness. Comparing them is like having a cage-match between Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive — it’s not worth it because nobody wins. We’re better off letting them work together.
Having a tactile design resource is rare experience for me, so much of my help has come from the mystical computer ether. You can get by on your own but I’d highly recommend investing in either of these fine books if you’re interested in the visual side of web design. You’ll enjoy having reading an author that has actually heard of photoshop before. As for me, we’ll see if I can put the books to good use and come up with something that gives back to the garden.