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The Business of Software
The Business of Software

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  1. How to run a killer startup
  2. How to be a better programmer

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Nothing to see here, please move along
Nothing to see here, please move along
Nothing to see here, please move along
Nothing to see here, please move along
Nothing to see here, please move along
Nothing to see here, please move along
Nothing to see here, please move along

Cusumano, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and coauthor of Microsoft Secrets, offers a comprehensive overview of the software business and how the right approach is key to the success of technology companies. Cusumano first identifies the key distinction between software and other businesses. In fact, he believes it is unlike every other business because software doesn't have one purpose but becomes whatever function it is handling for a particular customer or company. As a result, software companies must sell both products and services, according to the author. The two typical ways software companies operate is by getting the lion's share of revenues from new product sales or via IT consulting. The third way is what the author calls "hybrid solutions companies—software firms that have some new product sales, but derive as much as 80% of their revenues from services and "maintenance." However, what's essential for company success in today's rapidly changing technological marketplace is having sufficient flexibility to change to meet customer needs. Citing both real companies including IBM, Netscape, etc., along with academic studies, Cusumano describes the changing face of the software industry over the past two decades. The writing is coherent and, given the somewhat technical subject matter, surprisingly graspable even for technophobes. Still, this is a niche book, apt to appeal to people involved in the world of software, rather than a general business audience.


What is this?

A while back I wrote an article on my blog listing all the books that hackers recommended to each other from the site HackerNews. The purpose was to provide a place to list book recommendations so that people didn't have to type in the same list over and over again. (HN gets several requests for book recommendations a week. I also get at least a couple each month). It was very well received, and many posters and commenters either asked that I make a site or sent me an email asking me to do so.

How is this any different from the list on the blog?

This list has more books. This list is sortable both by what question you have and your skill level. In addition, once you sort the list, you can save the link with your sort and send it to somebody else. So, for instance, when somebody wants a book for noobs learning to program, you can make a link for that and then reuse it

How did you collect these books?

Initially the list came from Googling "best book" and taking the books from the first few pages returned. Later, I added all the books that were mentioned "You left that out!" when Jacques posted the link. While adding those books, I came across a Stack Overflow link where programmers were asked to list their favorite tech books, so I included those too.

If I ask you to put a book on here, will you?

It depends.

These books were all gathered by finding places where hackers hang out and are suggesting books to other hackers and other hackers agree with them by voting up their suggestion. If I can find an example of this for your book, I'm happy to include it.

How are the books ranked?

I did the best I could with ranking. I am sure there are many things you do not agree with. It would be possible to add voting and personal ranking -- that would make the system much better. Heck, you could rank the books yourself and use it as a customized book list to show to people who want your advice. I'd like to do that, but if I've learned anything is to not let your featureset get ahead of the users. This first version will test the waters to see what kind of interest the community might have.