The 15 Most-Recommended Books by Top Product Managers

Product Management
December 12, 2022
6 mins read
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You never stop learning as a product manager whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. In fact, success in product management is frequently due to a person’s natural curiosity and desire to discover more.

That’s the very nature of product management. It evolves every day, and to stay on top of the game, you need to be updated with the latest developments. Common ways to do so are by joining various communities, watching videos, and subscribing to blogs.

But of all kinds of resources, product management books are the best. Good product manager books contain real-world experiences which will take you through the author’s journey, thus helping you become a better product manager.

In this article, you’ll find 15 such product management books handpicked to be on your must-read list.

1. The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager

The Product Book for product managers

The Product Book by Josh Anon (former Pixar PM) and Carlos Gonzázle de Villaumbrosia (CEO of Product School) is a best-seller on Amazon and is regarded as one of the best product manager books. 

The book about product management teaches you everything – how to ace interviews, improve your communication skills, and, of course, how to build a successful product. The book’s USP is that it provides approachable practical and real-life insights into the world of product management. 

Product School, an international training platform for project managers, created The Product Book which became one of the best SaaS product management books for beginners. Therefore, it’s a real deal for new as well as experienced product managers.  

2. Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love

Inspired by Marty Cagan

Inspired by Marty Cagan is one of the best books on product management that answers the most important question for any tech company: How to create a successful tech product. 

It covers the most valuable lessons on product management and talks about how tech companies like Google, Netflix, and Amazon build valuable products for their customers which makes it one of the best software product management books. 

From small startups to large enterprises, Marty has shared every life lesson that he has learned during his career in this product management book. If you are looking to level up your career in this field, this top product manager book is just what you need.

3. The Lean Product Playbook

The Lean Product Playbook for product managers

The Lean Product Playbook is one of the best product management books because of its comprehensiveness. This go-to guide for product managers is authored by Dan Olsen who is a seasoned tech consultant and an expert in product management and lean startup. 

This top product management book gives step-by-step guidance on how to apply lean startup ideas to your new product. It also talks about the unique and actionable product-market fit model considering the product (UX, features, and value proposition) and market (target audiences). 

As one of the best books for product management, its unique selling point is that it uses real-world examples to teach how to iterate based on customer feedback. Overall, PMs who want to iterate and learn product-market fit will benefit greatly from the Lean product playbook.

4. Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matter

3 Compelling Concepts from Basecamp's Shape Up | Sachin Rekhi

Shape Up is one of the best books about product management specifically for product development teams by Ryan Singer. Ryan has over 17 years of experience as a Head of Strategy at Basecamp. 

It provides practical tips for teams that are stuck in the middle or don’t know where to begin, making it one of the best product management books with practical utility. The main selling point is that it covers various workflows and techniques that Basecamp has used to build its most successful products over the years. 

For new teams, this product manager book provides guidance on how to shape the project first and then bet on it later for completion. It is a must-read for anyone interested in learning about the Agile process and how to implement effective strategies during product development. 

You can get this best product management book for free on Basecamp’s website.

5. Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm for product managers

Also called the bible for product teams, Crossing the Chasm is an entrepreneurial book on product management that was published in 1991 by Geoffrey Moore and gained a lot of popularity among product marketing managers. 

The fact that it still holds relevance after 30 years proves that it is a must-read product management book. It cites various reasons why some products turn out to be huge successes in the market and is also a great product lifecycle management book.

Geoffrey talks about crossing the chasm in this product manager book which refers to a vast gap between the early market of Innovators and early adopters and the customer adoption lifecycle. Those who cross this chasm are the successful ones. 

The book has three editions: Crossing the Chasm, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, and Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers.

6. The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business

The Mom Test for product managers

People say that you shouldn’t ask your mom if your business idea is good enough as she would lie to you. (Because she loves you.) The truth is that everyone would lie to you a little. (At least, with a question like this). In fact, it is our responsibility to find the right answer using a good set of questions. 

That’s what The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick teaches us. This book for product management covers a set of simple rules to ask and frame good questions that even your mom can’t lie to you about. 

Fitzpatrick cites the importance of gathering feedback and talking to the customers as a prerequisite for a successful product.

7. Outcomes Over Output: Why customer behavior is the key metric for business success

Outcomes Over Output: Why customer behavior is the key metric for business success by [Josh Seiden]

As the name suggests, Outcomes Over Output talks about focusing on the results over volume to build and iterate the product based on customer feedback in an organization. Outcomes over Output is a product management book authored by Josh Seiden that differentiates between leading by output vs leading by outcomes. 

The product manager book helps teams identify specific customer behaviors to determine their efforts. This would ensure a streamlined work process, reduced chances of rework, and customer satisfaction.

Outcomes before Output, published less than a year ago in 2019, is one of the most recent books for product managers that you should definitely give a try.

8. Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth

Measure What Matters for product managers

Measure What Matters is a book written by one of the earliest inventors of Google – John Doerr. 

Regarded as a book every product manager should read, he talks about the revolutionary goal-setting system: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Various tech giants like Intel, Google, Amazon, and Uber have used this goal-setting system over the years. 

John recognizes the importance of a system like OKR and how it has led to its explosive growth. 

This is definitely a must-read book for product managers at any level of organization in order to iterate their product successfully.

9. Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value

Escaping the Build Trap for product managers

Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Peri is an absolute classic and one of the best product management books. As the title suggests, the book teaches about escaping the build trap or the pitfalls where Product managers or companies fall. 

In this product manager book, Peri talks about cultivating a customer-centric product rather than focusing on too many outputs that offer little value and waste your precious time. This digital product management book is a gem for those who want to build a culture that focuses on outcomes over outputs.

10. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Hooked is a product management book written by Nir Eyal who lays the practical guide on how to build better products. The book talks about the ‘Hook’ model which companies must adapt to encourage customer behavior without any aggressive marketing campaigns. 

This model will help PMs, marketers, or designers explain how to build products that form customers’ habits so they come back for more. The product management best book is divided into 5 broad chapters where each chapter talks about different stages of hooking the customers.

11. Product Mindset: How to Get Inside Your Customer’s Mind

The Product Mindset: Succeed in the Digital Economy by Changing the Way Your Organization Thinks by [David H. DeWolf, Jessica S. Hall]

To create a product that customers love, you must first comprehend their psychology. 

Companies must gain insight into the minds of their customers in order to create a successful product. Product Mindset teaches you to acknowledge your customers’ pain points, life circumstances, and mental states. 

This best product manager book explains how Netflix made use of artificial intelligence, how Spotify wooed customers, and how to elicit psychological responses. 

This book on product management process is a gold mine for project managers, as it contains insider secrets and practical advice from project managers at companies like Spotify, Netflix, and Pandora, among others.

12. Ship It: Silicon Valley Product Managers Reveal All

As a product manager, you cannot merely work on your instincts. PMs are not psychic and hence they must gather data and know the needs of their users. Finally, you should learn the ways to communicate with your team and pass on the vision to them. 

This is what Ship It talks about. It has all the top secrets from the PMs in Silicon Valley making it one of the best product management books. 

This product manager book explains the challenges and responsibilities of product managers with tips on how to deal with them. It contains secrets from the PMs of top companies like Facebook, Reddit, Dropbox, and so on.

13. Hired: How to Get a Product Management Job

Considering the transition to a product management job? Confused about which skills are important? Hired is a product management interview book that talks about it all. 

This product management interview book is a comprehensive guide that talks about the most common and uncommon transitions and spills the beans on cracking the PM interview in top tech companies. 

This practical guide covers the interview advice from PMs of companies like Google, Airbnb, Facebook, Apple, or Amazon.

14. The Making of Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

The Making of Manager for product managers

Leading a product team for the first time could be a daunting task. The Making of a Manager is a book written by top tech executive, Julie Zhuo. In this product manager book, she talks about her experience of becoming a product manager at the age of 25 and the challenges associated with it. 

This bestseller reveals the top tactics on how to lead a product team and be the best product manager. Julie Zhuo is definitely one of the best books about product management as she has over 11 years of experience as the VP of Product Design at Facebook.

15. The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup for product managers

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a modern-day product management book for entrepreneurs and product managers in tech giant companies that discusses building products on behalf of an existing company or the method used to find a new company. 

Regarded as one of the best product management books to read, Eric discusses the process of testing your customers’ visions, listening to customers, and providing them with real value in order to adjust and adapt to a changing ecosystem before it’s too late.

Summing up

The list of the best product manager books to read will help you understand what it means to be a product manager, crack interviews, and learn from some of the best brands and PMs of the software industry.

Apart from the best product management books, you also need the right tools that will help you run and manage all the processes.

Zeda.io is a super app for product teams that will help you put everything you learn from the above books into practice. From collecting customers’ feedback to tracking usage data, you can manage all your processes from here. Furthermore, you can bring data from your existing tools to Zeda.io through various integrations to get started in no time.

Start your free trial today.

FAQs

  1. What should product managers read?

It depends on what you are looking for. For instance, if you want to become a product manager, you should read “Hired”, one of the best product management interview books. If you focus on learning how big players manage their products, “Ship it” will be a better option.

  1. What is the hardest part of product management?

Organizational communication, team alignment, and managing various responsibilities are considered the most difficult parts of product management. You can easily deal with these challenges by reading the best books in product management like “Crossing the Chasm”, and “Product Mindset”.

  1. What are the 4 Ps of product management?

Product, price, process, and people are the 4 Ps of product management.

  1. What are the 4 product layers?

Core, tangible, augmented, and promised are the four product layers.

  1. How difficult is product management?

As it demands a lot of skills on a seasoned level, managing products can be challenging. However, with the right knowledge and tools, you can run all the processes easily.

  1. How do I become a product manager with no experience?

Start by reading the best books for product management interviews such as “Hired”.  As a beginner in the field, you will begin from the intern level and can work your way up from there.

  1. Is coding required for product management?

Not necessarily. Product management requires you to understand the processes enough so you can guide them through various phases of the development process.

  1. What are the 3 major areas of product management?

Discovery, planning, and development are the three major areas of product management.

  1. What are the top 3 skills for a product manager?

Communication, team management, and prioritization are the top three skills for a product manager.

Jacob Koshy
Product Marketer at Zeda.io
A marketer in love with SaaS products. When away from work, I'm either spending time with my cats or adding miles on my motorcycle.
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