The Lone Bookshelf: The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawasaki

(This is the inaugural post of my Lone Bookshelf series. Find more posts using the “Books” category)

Last summer my family moved to a different house. By itself, moving isn’t that big of a deal. Take everything out of the old house, put it on a truck, unload it into the new house. What is a big deal is sorting. At the old house all of our stuff had a place, carefully curated and filed and sorted and stored. At the new place our stuff had piles in the middle of rooms. Ugh.

The Macintosh Way CoverI have three large bookshelves from my college years that needed a new home in our new home. Bookshelves are a particularly pernicious piece of furniture. By themselves they are bulky. Fulfilling their purpose makes them very heavy. Somewhere around the third heavy box of books up three flights of stairs I asked myself why I was doing this. Was I bragging to people that this is how well-read I am? Did I use them as reference? Perhaps I just needed ballast, worried that the house would tip over in a particular direction.

Right then I started sorting my books, keeping only those that were influential or inspiring, or serve as a recently used reference. Now, as I am finally getting my home office & lab under control, I am going through what I kept to find which ones have newer editions and electronic versions. One of these books is Guy Kawasaki’s “The Macintosh Way,” which Mr. Kawasaki has recently offered as a free electronic copy in PDF, MOBI, or EPUB formats:

Mr. Kawasaki was Apple Computer Corporation’s chief evangelist back when the Macintosh was first being developed. His job, put crudely, was to get software companies to develop software for a platform that didn’t really exist yet. As Calxeda discovered (the hard way) and ARM is working to mitigate, a new technology is only as good as the software that runs on it. Unfortunately, when there isn’t much software for a platform there isn’t much interest from consumers. The same was true of the Macintosh. In order to sell Macs they needed software. In order to get software they needed a customer base. It was Kawasaki’s job to fix that paradoxical situation.

The book is funny and sarcastic. It uses eclectic references, talks a lot about early Apple, and mocks Apple a lot (“What is the difference between Apple and the Cub Scouts?” The answer: “The Cub Scouts have adult supervision.”). It also talks a lot about how Apple picked up the Hewlett-Packard Way baton as a way to do things right and treat customers well, how to hire the right people, how to build community, how to do a good demo, etc. Despite the book being 24 years old the topics, exercises, and commentary are incredibly relevant to those of us working in the IT industry.

It’s a fast read and the sections are perfect for reading while flying, as you can put it down and pick it up quickly. The price is free if you grab the electronic copy from the tweet above. Otherwise Amazon has it, too. I’ve had my copy since it was first published, and I’m attached to it, so it’s going back on my bookshelf again. 🙂