Community Managers’ Reading List: 29 Books
Community Managers’ Reading List: 29 Books

Community Managers’ Reading List: 29 Books

Interested in online communities, online engagement and community management? Here’s a list I recently compiled for an answer on Quora – good books for Community Managers (with a few more thrown in for good measure!).

13th October 2011

Interested in online communities and community management? Here’s a list of books for Community Managers (with a few more thrown in for good measure!).

  1. Community Building on the Web: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities Amy Jo Kim (2000)
  2. The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier Howard Rheingold (2000)
  3. The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition Rick Levine, Doc Searls, Christopher Locke, Jake Mckee
  4. Buzzing Communities Rich Millington (2012)
  5. The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation Jono Bacon (2009)
  6. Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards Patrick O’Keefe (2008)
  7. Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for communities Etienne Wenger (2009)
  8. Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William Synder (2002)
  9. Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies Charlene Li & Joshua Bernoff (revised ed 2011)
  10. Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators Clay Shirky (2011)
  11. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations Clay Shirky (2009)
  12. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning)(2009)
  13. 18 Rules of Community Engagement: A Guide for Building Relationships and Connecting With Customers Online Angela Connor (2009)
  14. Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World’s Most Inspiring Online Design Community(2010)
  15. Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy Dawn M. Foster (2009)
  16. Online Community Management For Dummies Deborah Ng
  17. Social Networking for Nonprofits: Increasing Engagement in a Mobile and Web 2.0 World Andy Steggles (2010). Thanks to Anne-margaret Olsson for this addition.
  18. Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social DesignRobert E. Kraut and Paul Resnick. (2012)

    For Community Designers, Programmers, UI/UX peeps etc.
  19. Building Web Reputation Systems Randy Farmer, Bryce Glass (2010)
  20. Design for Community Derek Powazek (2001)
  21. Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last Tharon Howard (2010)
  22. Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience (Animal Guide) Cristian Crumlish and Erin Malone (2009). Another one from Anne, thanks!

    For MMO, Virtual Worlds & Gamers (but fascinating insight regardless)
  23. The Guild Leader’s Handbook: Strategies and Guidance from a Battle-Scarred MMO Veteran Scott F Andrews (2010)

    Broader social media & marketing makes for a long list, but here are some popular ones with crossover below:
  24. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us Seth Godin (2008)
  25. The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web Tamar Weinberg (2009)
  26. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust Chris Brogan (2010)
  27. The Thank You Economy Gary Vaynerchuk (2011)
  28. The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business Tara Hunt (2009)
  29. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose Tony Hseih (2010). Thanks to Nima Patel for the addition.

If you want to delve into further into designing for community, knowledge management, virtual worlds, gaming or another area there are plenty more to read. If you have any recommendations you’d like to have added, please leave it in the comments. 

Have an opinion?

We'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments below

Comment & Discuss
  • Excellent! Thanks.

  • btw- disqus is behind….this is not my current avatar.

    • Hmm why is it so? Let me know if I can fix it somehow!

  • Anne-margaret Olsson

    This is GREAT!  Thank you! 

    Two more to add:  “Designing Social Interfaces” by Christian Crumlish & Erin Malone and “Social Networking for Nonprofits” by Andy Steggles.

    • Brilliant, they’ve been added. Thank you! We’re up to 27 now.

  • Thanks for the mention, Alison. I appreciate it!

  • Nima

    Thanks for the shout-out Alison, appreciate it – you’ve cultivated a great list here!

    I just finished up (#9) Cognitive Surplus and definitely recommend it. Took 4 pages of notes and I think I still missed some gems. 

  • Here’s a few to add to the list that I found useful:

    Abraham, L & Behrendt, C 2010, Oh My God What Happened?, 1st edn,

    Baym, NK 2000, Tune In Log On: Soaps Fandom and Online Community, New Media Cultures, Sage Publications Inc., London.

    Bruns, A 2008, Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage, Peter Lang, New York.

    Burgess, J & Green, J 2009, YouTube: online video and participatory culture, Polity Press, Cambridge.

    Green, J & Jenkins, H 2009, ‘The Moral Economy of Web 2.0’, in J Holt & A Perren (eds), Media Industries: history theory and method, Wiley-Blackwell, Maiden MA, pp. 213 – 25 & 31 – 44.

    Hartley, J 2009, ‘TV Stories: From Representation to Productivity’, in J Hartley & K McWilliam (eds), Story Circle – Digital Storytelling Around the World, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, p. 16.

    Hebdige, D 1979, Subculture, The Meaning of Style, 1st edn, Routledge, London.

    Hesmondhalgh, D 2007, The Cultural Industries, 2nd edn, Sage, London.

    Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence Culture – Where Old and New Media Collide, 1st edn, New York University Press.

    Leadbeater, C 2008, We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production, Profile, London.

    Malaby, TM 2009, Making Virtual Worlds, Linden Lab and Second Life, Cornell University Press, New York.

    Nightingale, V 1996, Studying Audiences: The Shock of the Real, Routledge, London & New York.

    Zittrain, J 2008, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it., 1st edn, Yale University Press, London.

    A little bit varied but all of this literature, I think, aids in the greater understanding of community management.


  • Hi Alison,
    Thanks for the list… I’ve been a community manager for 6 years but after a year of maternity leave have come back to work and need to sharpen up my brain!  I’ve got some Community Strategy documents to write in the next few months and need to go right back to basics.

  • Sue

    Here’s one to add to the list that I’ve just started reading: “Building Successful Online Communities – Evidence-based Social Design.” Robert E. Kraut and Paul Resnick.

    • Thanks Sue! I’ve bought it on my Kindle but I’m only a few pages in. Interesting so far and seems to come recommended from CMs I’d admire. Like yourself! Now if I can just find some time to read it…

  • I have, or have read, the majority of those. Excellent. I cannot recommend Amy Jo Kim and higher. Find and order it if you don’t have it.

    Can I also recommend:

    Open Community, Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant (2010)
    Humanize, Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant (2012)

    I’ve got an offensively large list of reading around more general organisational innovation and change, and a lot of what I read and own can be seen on Goodreads –

    • Thanks @trib22:disqus! Totally agree – Amy Jo’s book is a stand out for me. Although the list isn’t in any order, there’s a reason it was first to mind.

      I’ve not read either of these, will add them to the list. Might be time for me to edit this post – we’re well over 30 books now.

  • Hey it reverted my “at trib” to your full name, sounds a tad more formal than anticipated 🙂