Recently I was asking some questions in an online forum which I frequent -- namely, #perl on the freenode irc network -- and one person's answer referred me to the Camel. I was treated with shock and indignation when I mentioned I do not own a copy of the Camel, nor do I have any intention of purchasing a copy. It came as a surprise to me that, apparently, all Real Perl Programmers (tm) are required to not only have books about Perl, but one specific book. (I must note that I've been solely using perldoc and, more recently, other online resources for my Perl learning journey. It might not be the most efficient route, but I tend to think it is as effective.)

This got me thinking. For myself, I find dead tree tomes not particularly well suited to covering technical topics. I am often groping for some efficient way to search the text, and this leaves me at the mercy of the author or publisher's index (or lack thereof). Another issue I have with technical books is updatededness. Or maybe it's malleability. It seems that computer programs are much more malleable than books that are printed to describe them, which leads to a sort of impedence mismatch in my brain. Perhaps I have just been unfortunate that the few books of purely technical nature I have tried to use have left a very bad taste in my mouth.

So what I come here to ask, oh learnéd monks, is if I am completely nuts. Are paper and ink books an irreplaceable resource in the journey to enlightenment that is Perl? Does the Camel book, in particular, contain something that is not duplicated in perldoc or the collective knowledge of many questions asked and answered? And most important to me, am I the only person who considers himself a merely decent Perl coder but doesn't own any printed materials on the subject?

PS: please do not think I am trying to insult any of the undoubtely many book-using (and even book-writing) patrons of this fine place. I realize my predilection towards electronic documents might be somewhat odd, and I am willing to accept that. Also, I do not have a dislike for books in general. In fact, I feel just as strongly that great works of fiction and other stories fit much better on paper than on a computer (of course, the reasons are completely different, but I digress).