A new book (edition) just in time for the holidays

The “news” item here is that a new edition of Sams Teach Yourself HTML & CSS in 24 Hours (it may or may not end up saying HTML5 and CSS3 on the cover, but that’s what it teaches) will hit the shelves in the beginning of December. I think it’s a pretty good update—the first update of this text that I did in 2010 was the first time the core content had been touched in 5 or 6 years (it was originally someone else’s book), and I still had to walk that “HTML5 is still pretty fluxy” line, but this edition is all HTML5, all the time.

It’s not about beautiful, mind-boggling, hey-look-they-updated-CSS Zen Garden-and-so-can-you-in-a-day HTML5, but it is about valid semantic markup and awesome changes to forms and form validation, and all the other useful basic stuff now firmly on the table (but not in tables…see what I did there?). You can see the table of contents and judge for yourself. Thanks to Jennifer Kyrnin for tech editing this edition; she’s also going to be doing the eventual Pearson “Learning Kit” version of this text in the future, because I suck suck suck at videos and she doesn’t.

I hesitate to say anything about the new edition (this is why I’m not in marketing!) because I know there are a lot of folks who dislike the “in 24 hours/21 days/something not 10,000 hours” brand of books, and more than a few of my friends and associates who hate all things Pearson with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. But I’ve mostly made peace with all of that. I remind myself that tens of thousands of people have actually learned something useful from one or more of my books, and I am extremely careful in my texts to say that hey, guess what, you’re not going to learn X in 24 hours, but you’re going to learn a lot of the basics through short lessons, such that you’ll be able to search Google more productively, and eventually ask better questions on StackOverflow. I’m still bracing myself for the inevitable stream of “you suck, your books suck, you’re working for the man” emails and/or comments that I will get, because I always do.

That may or may not be one of the reasons that I gave my ever-so-patient editor more than a few gray hairs as I sat on the update to this book for well over a year. I actually had a pretty good freak out at one point.

Almost two years ago now (tempus fugit and all), I wrote a blog post called “Tech Books: Not Dead!”, in which I talked a bit about how books still have a place for many people when it comes to learning the basics about X, Y, or Z technologies. I still believe that; any drop-off I’ve seen in sales of my own physical books has been balanced by increased sales in electronic versions of my books. While that statement could be firmly interrogated by someone like me with over-education in all things “history of the book”, I’m just going to say that you know what? They’re totally the same book. Tech books not (yet) dead, so go use them if they work for you.

But I had a pretty good freak out nonetheless. For a good six months (or more) I was stuck, knowing that I was not writing a super shiny book on HTML & CSS, but was writing a boring looking sometimes witty basic text that tries to scaffold as best I can, covering topics for which Google lists literally (for realz literally, not figuratively literally) several million pages for each. What was I thinking? Why would anyone buy this book? Then my editor reminded me that people buy and tend to enjoy and learn from my books because they’re boring looking and sometimes witty and try to scaffold. He might also have called me a dumbass at the end, but I’m not sure. Probably not, but I heard it anyway.

So here’s a new edition, out in December. I hope some people like it. Some people won’t, and that’s ok. There’s a kitten video in lesson 12, just to cover all my bases.

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