Books for Product Managers

List of useful books for Product Managers. These are not really domain specific, but more thought-provoking, and useful for picking up some skills. Best of all, these are very useful as a reference when you want to refresh a less used skill (pricing, market sizing etc) or want to find out what actually happens in the workplace.

Product Manager’s Toolkit:The author works with Blackblot, an organization that conducts certifications and trainings for product managers worldwide.
Stealing-The-Corner-OfficeStealing The Corner Office
What is it about?
If you have ever been frustrated by the inexorable rise of incompetent managers, and wondered why you were not able to rise despite being more capable, then you must read this book. This is a very insightful look at how office politics works in favor of the incompetent and what you should do to advance your career. For product managers, who have all the responsibility with minimal authority, this will show how to influence your stakeholders. It also tells you exactly why the strategies you thought would work rarely do. The author also has a blog and a website
Agile-Product-Management-With-ScrumAgile Product Management With Scrum
What is it about?
This book basically describes what product owners should do and must do. With Agile becoming the preferred software development methodology, Product Managers must also learn to work as Product Owners during development. It’s a must-read for offshore enterprise and offshore consumer software product managers.
Book: Web Analytics 2.0Web Analytics 2.0
What is it about?
This book is a very good introduction to web analytics. It describes the field of web analytics, the value of different metrics measured and how web analysts complete their tasks. It is also a very good reference for junior product managers or business analysts starting their careers in web product management in India. Finally, this book introduces both the skills and the knowledge you need to have a meaningful conversation with the web analytics team as a product manager.
Note:This book does not contain complex maths, however, common sense is often enough to identify ways to improve web products.
Book: Signal and the NoiseThe Signal and the Noise
What is it about?
A very large part of product management is prediction, on how users, buyers, marketers and engineers will use, buy, sell and build products. This book is a great introduction to assumptions, uncertainities, risk, accuracy, precision and several other concepts that are vital for a product manager.
Note:This book is not really about products, but contains many useful ideas for product managers
Book: Rocket Surgery Made EasyRocket Surgery Made Easy
What is it about?
Usability testing is a vital component of website design, and a discipline web product managers must know in detail. This book describes how to create and manage usability testing, on a budget.
HTML 5: Designing Rich Internet ApplicationsHTML 5: Designing Rich Internet Applications
What is it about?
If you wish to design platform-agnostic apps, then HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript are mandatory tools to have in your bag. This book gives you a great introduction to what is actually HTML5 and how support for HTML5 is implemented in the popular browsers, including mobile browsers. It also gives you a good picture of CSS3 and the UX enhancements possible with that. Javascript is introduced and the popular libraries (jquery included) are discussed for comparison. Finally, it talks about SVG, CANVAS, the ubiquitous FORM elements and other useful tools to build a rich internet application relevant across platforms. It is an easy read, and has great reference value.
Note: The book is kind of expensive, so you can find a library that has it in their collection or borrow it online.
statistics for managementStatistics for Management
What is it about?
This is a mandatory textbook on statistics taught at most IIMs and business schools in India and abroad. It covers the basics of statistical analysis, goes in-depth in a few topics and gives you the skills you need as a product manager to confidently handle statistical analysis. If you have moved from engineering to a product management role then you should refer this book regularly. I will be covering the book in details in the book review later.
Note: You can purchase this book from several websites in India and abroad.
High-Tech High-Touch Customer ServiceHigh-Tech High-Touch Customer Service
What is it about?
This is a good book to read about the value of customer service, how it can impact product design and the ways in which it is evolving with the addition of social media as a customer service channel. If you have never worked in customer service, then this book will be a good introduction to the topic, and will provide good ideas on how to improve existing features to account for the hidden needs of customers. Note: Try to find this book in a library or borrow it from someone, rather than purchase the title.
Strategy and Tactics of PricingThe Strategy and Tactics of Pricing
What is it about?
This is a very good book that explains in details how pricing is done, and why it is done so. It is a management textbook that is, unfortunately, not a prescribed reading in business schools in India. You should read it cover to cover at least twice, to get a good grasp of pricing decisions.
Note: You can keep it as a reference in case an opportunity arises to work on product pricing.
Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things DoneExecution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
What is it about?
Every once in a while, you will have to interact with senior management about strategy and operations. This book provides an excellent reference to both topics with useful examples. The learnings in this book are more conceptual, rather than for developing skills. However, this was a business bestseller a while back, and is a good book to read to understand the benefits of “building blocks of execution” and the “core processes of execution”.
Note: It is available in most libraries, and is worth a thorough read.
The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to get Promoted to the Executive LevelThe Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to get Promoted to the Executive Level
What is it about?
So you moved from engineering to product management hoping to rise faster in your career. But in most cases, this will only bring you into the beginning of the middle management layer. This book, a must read, explains what is needed to reach the higher management cadres in large organizations. If you are in offshore product management, you must understand the insights and guidelines shared here, particularly since the senior leaders you need to influence might be 10,000 miles away.Note: It is available on amazon.com, although it is much cheaper in the US, and is worth keeping as a reference.
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  1. […] Books for Product Managers […]

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