What’s the difference between Somewhat satisfying books and Very satisfying ones?

Hi everyone,

Kimberly Kim here. I am emerging from yet another wallow in the data from our customer survey. One data point that stood out for me this time is that more of you are “Somewhat Satisfied” with your Microsoft Press titles than are “Somewhat Dissatisfied” and “Very Dissatisfied” combined. This has me wondering about you Somewhat Satisfied folks—what would have made you Very Satisfied instead?

In Redmond, this is the time of year when the tulips bloom and managers like me start thinking about goals for the next fiscal year. (Honestly, between my kids’ school year, Microsoft’s fiscal year, and the calendar year, I usually have no idea what day it actually is.) Looking at these survey results, I am tempted to set a goal for the Press team to convert a percentage of you Somewhats into Verys. But I want to understand better what kinds of things make you Very Satisfied with our books before I write anything down.

So, here’s what I ask from you:

  1. Comment on this post. Tell me what makes the difference for you between a Somewhat satisfying experience and a Very satisfying one.
  2. Fill out our book survey when you read a Microsoft Press book.  http://www.microsoft.com/learning/booksurvey
  3. When you fill out the survey, if you are Very Satisfied, use the comments section to tell me what inspired you to choose Very.
  4. When you fill out the survey, if you are Somewhat Satisfied, tell me what would have made you Very Satisfied instead.
  5. If you are at all editorially minded, please forgive my misuse of capitalization in this post.

I’ll wallow in what you tell me, and I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks!

Comments (4)
  1. ciupaz says:

    Hello Kimberly,

    although in recent times, books from Microsoft Press have improved greatly, there would still be refine aspects, to make them truly excellent.

    First the code examples must be fully functional: must be tested carefully. There’s nothing worse, for readers who have to learn (new languages, for example), losing hours of time to understand why a snippet of code does not work or does not compile either.

    Then I would say that since these texts are also widely used by non-native English (like me), the authors should endeavour to use English as understandable as possible without expressions or slang terms.

    Finally I would add that each book should have a binding as flexible as possible, whereas these books are often read by keeping them open on the desk in front of the PC.

    I would say, however, that the road is in the right direction.


  2. rgreen says:

    You need me as a technical editor so I can address some of the issues in the previous comment. rongreen at gmail

  3. Blarkon says:

    I would like to see screencasts of labs included with the training kits. This would help immensely when I’m stuck doing an end of lesson lab.

  4. Wei Wang says:

    One of my favorite books from mspress was David Sceppa’s "Core ADO.NET Reference". It was extremely clearly written and all thru the book, the author was able to anticipate what questions are on the reader’s mind every step of the way and provide answers right in the next paragraph.

    Other great authors inlcude legends like Charles Petzold and Jeff Richter.

    To me, the reason these people managed to produce quality books include:

    1. They carefully considered what the readers ‘already know’, ‘dont know’, and ‘want to know’.

    2. They arranged the topics in a logical progression so that later chapters build on knowledge gained from previous chapters

    3. The book’s content provide real value beyond what’s freely available (either in the online documentation or blogged somewhere)

    4. Bad books provide instructions on how to ‘use’ the technologies (e.g call a certain method, set some property). Good books go further and discuss the fundamentals (first principles) and how these fundamentals are implemented in MS technology.

    5. The authors are true experts on the subjects they write, being simply good is not enough. Folks who write for Wrox are usually programmers that spend a few months on a beta version of an upcoming release, then write a book about its new features etc. The result is usually trash.

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