Books occupy an interesting place in the psyche of the world right now.
On the one hand, they’re quaint and traditional objects which are loved by fans of literature. In this regard, they’re seen as humble and honest in contrast with the creeping advances of e-books and other digital content.
As to whether words on a piece of paper really are morally superior than words on a screen, the jury is certainly out. However, when approached from this type of perspective, the reaction of most people is certainly to praise books and the independent shops which stock them.
On the other hand, books are seen as a dated and ‘slow’ way to learn information. This is particularly true in an educational context. The vast, expansive libraries of universities which hold 10,000s or even 100,000s of titles, are starting to look slightly redundant. The digitisation of their content is allowing students to remotely search and find specific information without even holding a book in their hands.
The situation for investing books
Investing books sit in a difficult middle ground between these counterpoints.
On the one hand, yes, investing books are still cherished by many. A quick look on online stores will show that the most popular investing books have legions of fans who have left adoring 5 star reviews.
This is hardly a sign of a medium in significant decline. Clearly, an investing book with appealing content, an inspiration message, and a way to communicate effectively to beginners of the subject, will still have a solid place in any book store.
That being said, the domain of investing books is clearly under threat. This is most evident when contrasted to circumstances 20 years ago.
Back in 2000, if an investor wanted to learn about the stock market or how to value shares, they would have needed to buy an investment book. It was effectively the only channel available, save for signing up to a physically-instructed investing course at great expense (in both time and cost).
Whereas because of the development of the web, and the saturation of content in the last decade in particular, the options are now far wider for any apprentice of investing.
They can choose between online courses, blogs and video content produced by reputable educational or financial institutions. Many stockbrokers also provide simple educational content on their website to enable their clients to invest with confidence.
Where does this leave the humble investing book?
It’s almost surprising that anyone bothers going to a bookstore in modern times, because there’s so much information available on the web (and quite a bit of it for free), that you could certainly become an expert without staring at book ends on a shelf.
The simple answer is that despite the volume of information online – the web struggles to provide a comprehensive and curated path through technical topics.
Yes, blogs can cover a wide array of subjects, but a beginner doesn’t even know what to search for – so when reading ad hoc pieces on different investing concepts – how do they know which topics are most relevant, and how do they know when they’ve learned enough? They don’t.
Only courses and investing books offer this level of clarity and curriculum. And the good quality courses cost upwards of £20. Therefore suddenly you can see why investing books have managed to stay competitive – they offer a new student a curated journey through financial topics, at a price lower than an online investing course.