WOW! Heaps and heaps of replies. This is really far more than I expected. A round of thanks (and beers if it were feasible) to all who replied; you given me much food for thought.
It seems that my suspicion was correct. Almost all of the replies seem to advocate tech books for one reason or another. Apparently I am unique in that I don't have nor desire them for any reason. Since many people brought up the same points, I'll just reply to them here (in case anybody cares anymore).
- Books are portable.
- This is definitely true, and would be a real boon if I ever had a desire to learn about technical stuff when not able to reach a computer. For some reason I do not ever have this desire. In fact, reading about programming when I can't sit down and play around with what I'm reading about is more frustrating than just about anything for me. The closest I come is getting up and walking around (or taking a visit to the Throne) while thinking about Hard Problems (tm).
- Written-Word-on-Paper is cool.
- Absolutely; I really do enjoy the medium. As I mentioned in the OP, I couldn't ever imagine reading a good novel on a computer screen and enjoying it as much as in a nice paper format. That said, this feeling does not extend to computer stuff for me. Perhaps there is some strange disconnect in my brain, but it just doesn't feel the same.
- Online books are a happy medium.
- I actually have to disagree with this, for the most part. While they do have the benefit of searchability, they have the detriment of being written for the (more pleasant) medium they are usually used on. Unless the book is a pretty terse reference type, reading it on a computer screen would seem very tedious and frustrating.
- Everyone learns differently.
- This is the case indeed. Many different methods of learning where brought up, and they all have their merit. Strangely enough reading quick references is usually my preferred method of learning about computer topics, so online docs (which are truly written and intended for online consumption; see above) are ideal for me. Perhaps this is the root cause of my peculiar learning habits.
Once again, thanks to all for the replies! And just for the record, I am considering buying the Camel for the anecdotes and humor mentioned in some of the posts. I might just learn some Perl reading it, but that'll be the secondary goal. :)
PS: special mention goes to lachoy at Re: (OT) I prefer to do my learning with: dead trees or flying electrons? for the link to The Social Life of Paper. A very interesting read indeed!