(This is a joint post written by Charlie Hoffman and Wilson So Posted on July 14, 2009)
Hard as it is to imagine now, most publishing executives initially viewed the "For Dummies" imprint as a dubious idea at best. How could insulting potential readers by calling them dummies -- right on the book’s cover! -- possibly be smart marketing?
But the For Dummies brand became spectacularly successful. Faced with learning computer software from impenetrable manuals, readers came to view the “For Dummies” title as a sign of author empathy, not ridicule.
XBRL certainly comes under the “this stuff is complicated – help!” category of difficult technical topics that the imprint has traditionally covered (before it took up less challenging subjects, like hamsters and indoor grilling). Many readers will likely be familiar with Hitachi’s XBRL for Dummies book written by Peter Weverka and Wilson So. In October, Wiley will publish an XBRL for Dummies book written by Charlie Hoffman, the father of XBRL, and Liv Watson, one of the pioneers in the field. With two books with the same name, we thought it would be useful to tell you a bit about each.
Hitachi XBRL for Dummies https://store.nationalmailing.com/xbrl/ is a short-and-sweet intro to interactive data in 84 pages. Published last year, it defines XBRL and includes a brief history; it dispels common myths and describes the standard’s benefits. Notably, the book explains how XBRL is being used by companies for both external and internal reporting, as well as its potential uses in government.
At 384 pages, Charlie and Liv’s XBRL for Dummies is a more comprehensive volume. As Charlie states on his blog http://xbrl.squarespace.com/journal/2009/4/25/wiley-publishes-xbrl-for-dummies.html:
I am doing my best to condense my 11 years of working on XBRL including hundreds of conference calls, meetings, working with others in creating the specification, working with others creating taxonomies, and generally learning practical approaches to making XBRL work into the book.
The book will tell you what XBRL is, why it is, and how you can get your company ready for the new SEC-mandated business reporting standard for publicly traded companies. It is targeted at the business reader with no previous experience with XBRL.
This article has also been posted on Data Interactive, the Hitachi XBRL blog.