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7 Free eBooks that Should Line Every Web
Professional's Digital Bookshelf

by Keith Bryant

In Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Wired editor Chris Anderson argues convincingly for a future where large quantities of information are free and readily embraced by individuals and businesses alike. The following seven excellent eBooks certainly prove that free doesn’t have to imply cheap, and that individuals and businesses can profit even from free content. Between them, these seven must-read eBooks represent a lifetime’s worth of experience and knowledge that should be in every designer and developer’s digital library.

1. Web Designer’s Success Guide

Web Designer's Success Guide

Eschewing the technical for the business side of things, the Web Designer’s Success Guide was put together with the sole motive of assisting amateur and part-time freelancers in becoming full-time, professional web designers. Included within its pages is advice on transitioning from part-time to full-time, managing projects, pricing services, and marketing your business effectively.

Part-time designers will find much value in this free eBook, as it teaches the basics of running a web-designing business; experienced designers, on the other hand, will find this to be an invaluable reference for refreshing their marketing and management skillset.

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2. Time Management for Creative People

Time Management for Creative People

Mark McGuiness is a business coach and trainer for creative people. He is also the author of the profoundly practical eBook, Time Management for Creative People. At a mere 32 pages, it is a breeze to read. Yet the actionable advice in it can alter your creative approach, enhance productivity, and help you do the best creative work of your life.

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3. Unleashing the Ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

12 years after its 2000 launch, Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus remains an intellectual feast filled with groundbreaking ideas that shaped and prophesied the internet of 2012. Godin continues on the themes he addressed in his earlier book, Permission Marketing, and offers insight and examples of how certain ideas become viral, and more importantly, how to go about building ideas that become viral. Whenever any developer or designer talks about ‘viral marketing’, you’ll know where he borrowed this term from.
It may be old, but it still remains a work of significant importance that will change the way you approach your business and, perhaps, even your life.

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4. Eloquent JavaScript:  A Modern Introduction to Programming

Eloquent Javascript

Set against the glitz and razzmatazz of PHP and Ruby on Rails, JavaScript may appear decidedly bland and stale. Yet it is the cornerstone of client-side web interactivity, and a perfect introductory language for new programmers.

Eloquent Javascript by Marijn Haverbeke attempts to inject excitement back into this ubiquitous web programming language. It introduces Javascript through game-like, challenging chapters that detail the language’s rules, syntax and scope. An excellent reference guide for skilled programmers, and an even better introductory book for beginners to the programming fold.

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5. jQuery Fundamentals

jQuery Fundamentals

If you're looking for a friendly introduction to JavaScript and jQuery, this book may be an even better choice than #4. Rebecca Murphey, with help from other contributors, helps JavaScript newbies get up to speed with the basics in no time. The compact one-page layout makes for a quick read. If you're looking to take your design skills to the next level, add some interactivity kung-fu to your skillset with jQuery Fundamentals.

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6. Ruby Best Practices

Ruby Best Practices

When it was first developed by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in the mid-1990s, Ruby was an obscure Perl-inspired language with few users and little to no rules and documentation. One of those few users was Gregory Brown, a Ruby pioneer who went on to author Ruby Best Practices.

Ruby Best Practices is a compendium of chapters initially posted on the blog RubyBestPractices.com – a collaborative effort between four Ruby developers. The eBook lists rules, best practices, and actionable coding examples. Experienced Ruby developers will find this to be a hepful reference guide, while new users can use this as a good starting point for mastering Ruby.

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7. UX Storytellers – Connecting the Dots

UX Storytellers

Clocking in at nearly 600 pages, UX Storytellers is a compendium of articles and essays by user-interface experts from around the world. Part tutorial, part step-by-step guide, part manifesto and part philosophical treatise, this is an eBook that will change the way you think about usability. A required read for every designer and developer.

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The seven free eBooks I’ve listed in this article are guaranteed to improve your skills and get your creative juices flowing. ¬†Download them today and enjoy!

Have you read any of these books, or do have additional favorites of your own? Please share in the comments!

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