But this isn't a blog post about programmers who make typos on their resumes, but about what a minefield of low-quality programming books that Amazon has become.
Teaching people to code is important to me. I write books on programming and make them freely available online under a Creative Commons license. But there are many low-quality, self-published programming books on Amazon that you need to learn to avoid.
First up is SQL Programming Guide. The subtitle is "Java Script and Coding Programming Guide: Learn In A Day!". If you look at the cover, it looks pretty nice except for the subtitle which was amateurishly added on after the fact. The subtitle is in a completely different font than the rest of the cover's text. It uses a serifed font instead of sans serif, likely because the serifed font was the default in whatever graphics program the "author" used.
Suffice it to say, the positive reviews are probably all fake.
The cover is... a mess. The background pattern makes it hard to read the text, and he puts his name in a larger font than the title. Yikes.
Also, the book's contents are plagarized from Wikipedia. Most of these books probably are.
Best Excerpt from a Negative Review: "A book without a beginning or an end!"
Software Development for Engineers, C/C++, Pascal, Assembly, Visual Basic, HTML, Java Script, Java DOS, Windows NT, UNIX is amazing because it's from 1997. There's only one copy for sale available, so Amazon has it priced at $143. I'm not sure if it's actually from 1997 because there's a Kindle version available, but the cover sure does look like late 90s tech books. It was doing the SEO title thing before SEO was a thing. I like how it covers everything from Assembly to Java to VB to Pascal, and also UNIX, Windows NT, and DOS. Remember DOS? I do, because I'm old.
Remember scrolling marquees in the status bar? I do, because I'm old.
Best Excerpt from a Negative Review: There's only one review for this book, and it's just a wordless 3-star rating.
SMART Scripting is a nice title. It's followed by a subtitle that seems to be the author's life story: Scripting in more than one language - Learn mixing of VBScript, Java Script, HTML, Batch script and SQL Script. Write scripts for solving real daily life problems by mixing of scripts without having any expensive IDE compilers. That's multiple sentences with punctuation.
I read the first page, and it's incredible: There are only three sentences that don't have blatantly wrong information.
Best Excerpt from a Negative Review: There's only one wordless 3-star review for this book too.
The interior of the book is the standard low quality writing and layout design. I can tell from the font and text color that this book was written in Word and directly exported to PDF from there.
Best Excerpt from a Negative Review: There are no reviews for this book, which makes me feel like this and the previous two books were actual earnest attempts to write books instead of making a cash grab that involved paying for positive reviews.
And the author forgot to put his name on the cover. He's modest.
And Amazon image of the cover... is literally a photo of the printed book resting on a table. The flash from the camera adds a bright spot that makes the title even harder to read.
I almost want to buy it just because I'm so curious as to what could be in the pages of this massive tome.
Best Excerpt fro- of course there are no reviews for this book.
The cover is simply two copies of the other book's cover copy and pasted together.
The book has only one 5-star review from Brianna, a nurse from Portland, Oregon. Her headshot is so conventionally attractive you'd think she's a stock photo model. She's written 540 reviews, all 5-star.
Self-publishing has created a new wave of tech books. While I got my own start through self-publishing programming books, I need to stress that you should cast a skeptical eye over these books before you buy them. Just being listed on Amazon is not an indicator of quality, and Amazon's review system is rife with paid-for positive reviews.