About the book:
Why I Encourage You to Buy a Paper Book
To start, I will say that there are some advantages to electronic books: they don't take up space, you can search them easily, and when you buy one you can get it instantly. Moreover, if the software is friendly, you can copy and paste, which is especially useful with technical material.
Nevertheless, there are important advantages to a reading a real book, on paper. First, reading paper is more comfortable, because it is a lot easier on your eyes than is reading a screen. In fact, reading paper books is healthier better for you that reading electronic books. This is especially important late at night, when reading on a screen will make it harder for you to sleep well.
(From a Scientific American article entitled, "Bright Screens Could Delay Bedtime": ...two hours of iPad use at maximum brightness was enough to suppress people's normal nighttime release of melatonin, a key hormone in the body's clock, or circadian system. Melatonin tells your body that it is night, helping to make you sleepy...)
Another advantage of real books is they can lay flat on your desk while you work, which makes it easy to go back and forth from the book to your computer. And, you can use bookmarks. And, you can write on the paper. And it is easy to jump from one page to another. And, you can read a paper book for long periods of time comfortably. And so on. I'm sure you already know most of this.
What you may not know is that professionally published books are actually designed to be printed on paper and, in my opinion, what you see on a screen is a poor substitute.
Specifically, Harley Hahn's Emacs Field Guide was, from the beginning, written and designed to be printed. The page layout, the book design, the typefaces, the illustrations, the tables, the reference material, the examples — in fact, all the elements in this book — were designed and formatted to be printed on paper.
Perhaps most important: I wrote this book to be read from the beginning to the end, in order, on paper, one page at a time. This actually means a lot: a skilled professional writer purposely writes to suit the medium, and writing well for paper is a lot different from writing for a screen. (This includes Web sites.) For example, when I know that what I am writing will be read on a screen, I will use shorter paragraphs, simpler constructions, less complicated technical examples, and so on. This is not what you want in an Emacs book.
If you must buy the electronic version of the book, that's fine. I wrote the book very carefully, so you can use it as a reference, skipping around from one section to another as the need arises. Still, that's not my first choice for you.
What I really want you to do is buy a paper version of the book, and read the whole thing from start to finish, slowly, one page at a time. That is how this book — in fact all my books — are designed to be read. That's one of things that makes them so good. (If you really need an electronic copy of the book, buy both.)
If you are used to depending on your laptop, tablet or phone for most of your reading, I know what I am saying may sound odd, especially for an Emacs book. My guess is that virtually all of the technical material you read is online. Still, I have your best interests at heart, and I know what I am talking about.
© All contents Copyright 2023, Harley Hahn