Today sees the publication of Spotify for Dummies, a new book that details the ins and outs of Spotify and many of the related third-party apps and websites. I spoke to author Kim Gilmour and asked her to tell us a little more about the book: read on for this exclusive interview!
Who is Spotify for Dummies aimed at?
Anyone who uses Spotify can benefit, but beginners and occasional users will get the most out of it. In particular, there are millions of older people who don’t know about Spotify’s vast archive of tracks, so I hope that the book inspires these folks to sign up, search for new music and unearth old favorites. Younger Spotify users who are already comfortable with the service might find the book an ideal Christmas gift for their parents – both generations might end up discovering some great music from each other!
What makes the “For Dummies” books different from other technical books?
For Dummies books aren’t technical – that’s why they’re so popular. They turn something that might seem dull, complicated or intimidating into something approachable and easy to understand. All books follow a tried and tested formula – a friendly, unpatronising guide to the topic being discussed. You can dip in and out of a for Dummies book without needing to read it from cover to cover – just read the bits that interest you. There are cross references to other chapters if you need more background info about a particular topic.
Spotify is known for its simple, easy-to-use interface. How can you write a whole book on the subject?
A few people asked me this when I was embarking on the project. But there’s so much more to Spotify than meets the eye (or ear). Syncing local tracks to your iPod, discovering the many community sites out there, tips on organising and creating playlists, advanced search techniques, using the Premium features and maintaining privacy when connecting your account to Facebook are just some of the areas I cover in the book. Twitter for Dummies is another example of writing a whole book about something deceptively simple. At first, you’d wonder how someone could write a whole book about a concept as basic as sharing 140-character updates. But that book is filled with advice on how to promote your business and follow topics that interest you, and is in its second edition. Similarly, Spotify is so much more than just searching for a track and playing it. There are so many features and ways to help you make the most out of the app.
Which chapters do you think are especially useful to new users?
The early chapters explain what Spotify can do and give you a nice overview of the service. Once armed with this information, new users can then browse to the more detailed chapters relating to the topics that interest them the most.
Which chapters do you think are especially useful for experienced users?
I think experienced users will like the chapters about third-party apps and websites, along with the ones that discuss browser widgets and add-ons. The book isn’t about how to develop apps for the service – it’s mainly how to use the service from an end-user point of view. But I do include interviews and case studies with app creators that would-be developers might find useful.
Spotify is constantly adding new features. Did this make the book difficult to write?
Yes. As with all technology, Spotify won’t keep still – but that’s not a bad thing. I was constantly having to go back and revise chapters. During the course of writing the book Spotify announced a Download store, iPod syncing, a US launch, new Inbox features, and the end of Spotify Open. Most of all, there was a minor drama when Spotify announced its tie-in with Facebook’s Music app (and required a Facebook login for all new accounts). My publisher literally had to stop the presses in order for me to make sweeping changes to those chapters. I was up for about three nights in a row rewriting them! Then Spotify introduced ‘private listening mode’ – I was a few days too late to mention this feature in the book, but I’m including information about this and other new features at dummies.com/go/spotify and facebook.com/spotifyfordummies.
What do you think is most misunderstood or unknown Spotify feature that you talk about in the book?
I think there’s some confusion about syncing tracks to your iPod classic or nano. Many people think they can copy tracks from Spotify’s library onto these devices, but you can’t do that with a regular iPod – it has to be a device that can run the Spotify app.
There’s also a lot of concern about privacy, and I discuss how Spotify uses your listening data as well as how to restrict information about your listening habits being posted to Facebook or your public Spotify profile.
Did you get any help from Spotify themselves when writing the book?
Spotify for Dummies has no official connection with Spotify, and is editorially independent. However, Spotify were very approachable when I needed them to clarify particular aspects of the service, and they are fully supportive of the book; allowing us to use their screenshots and logo.
The book talks about many of the Spotify community sites and apps. Any particular favorites?
I will have to be diplomatic here and say that they are all brilliant! The Pansentient League is a great resource, of course! 😉 The innovations just keep on coming.
Spotify for Dummies is published by John Wiley & Sons and is out now!
Disclaimer: I was the technical editor on this book.