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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Search Engine Advertising : Buying Your Way to the Top to Increase Sales (Voices That Matter)
Publisher: Pearson Education
Authors: Catherine Seda
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best Intro To SE Advertising

If you want more traffic read this book. I read it over once, started up some SEA campaigns, and now will re-read it again carefully to see how I can get the most out of those campaigns.
I am a full time SEO, an employee with a multi-national company. I teach SEO at the local college and am the author of a small SEO workbook (seoworkbook.com). I also sell books, eBooks and my own music CD's via the internet, do consulting for small businesses like Bed & Breakfasts and am a broadcaster on an Internet radio station. As you can imagine I spend a lot of time in the search engine world. Until now I have focused on organic search which simply means creating web pages and sites the way search engines are going to find most attractive i.e. keyword rich content, SE friendly design, and optimized tags for engines that use them. Shari Thurow's book, "Search Engine Visibility", also published by New Riders, is the best resource regarding this approach that I have seen.
I read Catherine's book first of all because she has credentials, she has worked in a variety of positions in the SE advertising industry. Then flipping through the table of contents I knew from my own experience that she was covering the basics (and I a big believer in basics) and that she knew who the important players were. I liked what I read because she wrote in an easily understandable, conversational style which I appreciated and enjoyed.
She covered everything thoroughly, beginning with background chapters when necessary. There were a few times when the detail level got a little deep for me but that is because I, like Catherine, am essentially a marketing guy, I appreciate strategy, tactics and logistics but feel more comfortable in the strategy end of the pool.
Like Shari's book, this is definitely another winner from New Riders. I see that New Riders is a division of Peach Pit Press who do the Visual Quick Start books. I have long told my students that the VQS books are the best computer books for beginners on the market - bar none. The quality of all these books is no surprise as I see Pearson Education is the corporation behind them all. I work for an eLearning company so I am familiar with Pearson; they are one of the worlds largest and most respected publishers of text books.
Catherine helps make the industry jargon like "trusted feed", "fixed placement", etc. understandable, and explains how to monitor and track your campaigns and how to manage your conversion rate and return on investment. Her sections regarding landing pages, page design, and site architecture are easy to understand and immediately useful. Very importantly to us entrepreneurs, she also discusses how to deal with potential "click-fraud" and other business issues.
For a person who is venturing forth into the SE advertising world for the first time I can highly recommend this book. I would suggest that you read and do everything in Shari's book first however. Then do the same with Catherine's. Here is a key point: Even if you are ranking well with organic search the advertising option gives you the added benefit of your site being passed on to many other search engines of all kinds because of the business relationships large advertising companies like Overture and Google have with partners and affiliates.
I would say Shari's book represents step one of your search engine marketing plan, and Catherine's represents step two. Hopefully New Riders will soon come out with some form of step three - "How To Convert Visitors To Buyers". As I mentioned above, I currently teach SEO at the local college: because of Catherine's book, and the impressive results I have immediately achieved using her methods, I intend on adding another course on SE advertising later this year. There will also be a proposal on my bosses desk next week recommending SEA campaigns for all our primary products. For large or small companies, even my little B&B clients, advertising on the web is clearly an effective and affordable option. For serious entrepreneurs, the web has matured as a sales and marketing channel to the point where it is a required one.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good for the novice too

At first, I thought of this book as a little over my head since I haven't really programmed in a true object-oriented language like Java. (Creating custom objects in JavaScript is a good introduction, but concepts like subclassing, polymorphism and strong data typing can't be practiced.)
However, I now find as I prepare to use Java for the first time that the design patterns presented here are fairly easy to understand, and to imagine real-world applications for the examples certainly help a lot). Instead of a book to read to improve your OO skills, I'd recommend this as a *prerequisite* to OOA/OOD/OOP, something to get the cerative juices flowing about how to decompose a system into objects in a truly extensible way.
Of course, the best introduction to OO concepts still has to be "Object-Oriented Analysis and Design" by Grady Booch.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: eBay(TM) Strategies : 10 Proven Methods to Maximize Your eBay Business
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Scot Wingo
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Finally, an eBay book that wasn't for beginners only!

I have a moderately sized eBay-based business and I found that Wingo gave some pretty good tips. If he writes another one in the future, I would hope that that he cuts down on the acronyms a little. I like acronyms when they are used sparingly, but it is my opinion that Wingo may have overdone it. Though it makes all his arguments look very well-thought out and scientific as was the intention, I imagine.

Nevertheless, the best part of the book were the general tips and also the 2-3 page examples from different eBay selling companies. It is always nice to know how other people solve their challenges and try to apply those ideas to one's own business.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Bible with CD-ROM
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Paul Nielsen
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Chock-Full of Errors

I have never seen such a poorly edited book. If you know a lot about databases already, it's a good book to introduce you to SQL Server (say, if you're coming from Oracle). But if you're new to a lot of the concepts, I'd worry that the egregious mistakes on almost every page could lead you astray. E.g., Table 7-1, page 217 lists a Full Outer Join as "Matches rows using a non-equal condition" and a Theta Join as "Includes all the rows from both tables regardless of whether a match exists." WRONG! Obviously the descriptions have just been transposed, but this is the case throughout the text - the content is there, but it's like it's been put through a blender. The text is rife with typos and grammatical errors - in the *same* table Cartesian is spelled "cartisian", lovely. Was this written on a typewriter? This book, like every other 800-page, screenshot-laden, icons-in-the-margins, third-party, version-specific software reference, was obviously slammed out in a hurry and shoved through the process without any concern for quality, but having said that, I still give it three stars, because it's useful if you can tolerate its barely readable text.