Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

What possible advantages are there to being short?

Wed 13 Nov 2013, 11:50 AM



by Ben Langhinrichs
With apologies to those in the community who are shorter than I am (most of you), and whom I have teased about it on occasion (a select few of you), I must admit that there are advantages to being short.

At least if you are an ebook.

There was a time when most sources of information about technology were long. (1990s and early 2000s, I'm looking at you.) Lotus and other tech companies produced books with information about their products, and there were many independent books published as well. Most were in print. I have many pounds worth if books from that era, including Lotus Notes 4.6 Unleashed! (I even had a couple of chapters in that) and the Lotus Notes and Domino 6 Programming Bible, for example. There are still massive tomes being produced, but fewer people are buying them.

Why? Because we are busy, impatient and mobile. I carried my print copy of Mastering XPages on a trip one time, and it was a huge mistake. Never again. Now, I carry a digital copy, but it is a royal pain in the ass to dig through it in digital form. So instead, I search for blog articles. They are the right length, but already there are ones that are dated because they were for 8.5.2, not 9.0, and it isn't very easy to tell.

What people want, whether they are buying or downloading for free, are short dissertations on how to accomplish a specific task or a few related tasks, or short essays on the whys and wherefors of taking a certain approach.. They might even want a little audio or video demonstration built in to their short book. Instead of a monster tome to search through, they want links to other related tasks so they can go and consume those when and if they are needed.

All of which works well in a short ebook. The content can be concise rather than exhaustive, and it can contain audio and video clips (at least on your iPad/iPhone, Kindle Fire and some Android devices). It can contain links to other content that might be necessary, but that doesn't need to clutter the experience. Not a ton of words, no need to project a sense of covering everything, these short ebooks can be provided either free or fee-based on a company's website or through on-line bookstores. (Of course, there is still plenty of need and demand for full length books in both print and digital form, but I'm busy making a point here.)

So there, I've admitted that there are advantages to being short. (Now, balding may be a different story.)

Copyright © 2013 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:


1071.1. Roy Rumaner
(11/13/2013 03:05 PM)

As my wife, who is all of five feet nothing, always says "It takes us less time to iron our pants".