Re: [2] Gender, Age and Dummies books

Subject: Re: [2] Gender, Age and Dummies books
From: Rowena Hart <rhart -at- INTRINSYC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 09:12:57 -0700

What lead you to that conclusion?


Good question. I came to that conclusion from observing people I've
met at university, in jobs, and through friends. I've known and talked to
about 40 people who used the Dummies books.

Correct my if I'm wrong, but the Dummies books are designed to:

a. Help people who have no experience (or very little) with computers
understand what's going on "under the hood";
b. Help people with some experience with computers learn how to
use a new application or technology;
c. To demystify computers.

In my experience, the first people to turn to Dummies books for help
are women and older people. For example, for one summer job I
worked at a Freenet. The Freenet attracted teens and seniors. Many
of the seniors moved on from the Freenet, setting up private commercial
Internet accounts and buying specialized software for their home PC. I'd
that more than half of them turned to the Dummies books for help.

Similarly, while working for the government, many of the employees
were sent on retraining courses, ie. to move an employee from a
Macintosh to a Windows PC, or to learn Excel. Many of these employees
were women, and most purchased a Dummies book because they
felt they were missing a "from the ground-up" understanding of the

So, in my experience (limited, yes) gender and age do play a part in
the success of the Dummies books. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.
They fill a need. You also have to consider the secondary readers -- the
people who borrow the Dummies books from the original purchaser, or
who buy the books second hand. Even if the original marketing efforts
focus on gender and age, that doesn't mean that teenagers, men and
space aliens won't pick up the books later in the game.



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