Authors on Your Bookshelf

Originally published 28 February 2008

One of my hobbies is looking at the books on people’s bookshelves when I am in their offices. The books say a lot about the person. Some people have no books whatsoever, making me wonder if they are even interested in the issues of their professions. Other people have lots of books – old manuals, new books, and so on. I feel like people that have lots of books are professionally alive – that these people are interested enough in their professions to dig deeper than attending a seminar or a conference. The problem with a presentation at a conference is that it can only scratch the surface of a complex topic. In a book, you can get right down and wallow in a topic, going very deep with words and pictures.

So what books have you read lately on topics important to your industry? What does your bookcase look like?

Rather than looking at books on the latest fad, let’s spend a minute looking at the authors who have made long-term contributions to the computer industry. In some cases, the books the authors contributed were printed more than thirty years ago. In other cases, the books have just come off the press. In any case, the books that stand the test of time are those that deal with concepts and techniques. Books on the latest technology just don’t last long in the grand scheme of things.

So what authors should you have on your bookshelves? More to the point, what authors do I have on my bookshelves?

(Note: these authors are listed in alphabetical order.)

  • Sid Adelman and Larissa Moss. Their book on data warehouse development stands alone.

  • Fred Brooks. Brooks’ book, The Mythical Man-Month, is one of the most important books on information technology management ever printed, and it is at least 30 years old.

  • Ted Codd and Chris Date. Their book on relational technology is still useful today.

  • Jill Dyché and Evan Levy. Their books on CRM and customer management are in a class by themselves.

  • Larry English. Larry’s books on data quality address the subject better than any others.

  • Geoff Holloway. His small book, The Math, Myth and Magic of Name Search and Matching, is a gold mine of worthwhile information. Even though Holloway is not as well known as the other people found in this list, this book is simply brilliant.

  • Bill Inmon. My books on architecture and data warehousing have been best sellers and leaders in the industry from the beginning.

  • Ralph Kimball. Ralph’s contributions and original thought on database design and decision support systems (DSSs) are mandatory. Ralph has made a positive contribution to our industry.

  • David Marco. David’s contributions to metadata have set him apart from everyone else in the industry. No one understands the subject better than David.

  • James Martin. Published long ago, Martin’s treatment of the design and development of operational systems remain a valuable contribution.

  • Ed Yourdon and Tom DeMarco. Their early treatment of structured analysis and design set the stage for much of what happened in design and development in the computer industry.

  • John Zachman. It took John a long time to write a book, and John is best known for his presentations. However, any list of contributions to the computer industry that does not mention John is not a complete list.


So that’s it. This list is admittedly subjective. So, if you don’t like my list, make up your own. In any case, go read a book. Go dig deep beneath the surface and find out firsthand and in depth about the issues that shape our industry. It will be time well spent.

SOURCE: Authors on Your Bookshelf

  • Bill InmonBill Inmon

    Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations.

    Editor's Note: More articles, resources and events are available in Bill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

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