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The 16 best product management books

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Looking to land your first job in project management? Feedback on your product idea? Want your product to attract more customers? Or are you a founder looking to better cope with today’s rapidly-changing technological landscape?

Reading the right books will give you an edge.

The best product management books are written by industry tech moguls and industry experts who walk their talk. They contain field-tested and actionable strategies their authors have gathered from decades of experience.

With that in mind, here are the 16 best product management books of 2022 (in our humble opinion):

  1. Swipe to Unlock!
  2. Inspired
  3. Escaping the Build Trap
  4. Cracking the PM Interview
  5. Hooked
  6. Sprint
  7. Product Roadmaps Relaunched
  8. Empowered
  9. The Mom Test
  10. Testing Business Ideas
  11. Principles of Product Management
  12. The Lean Product Playbook
  13. The Hard Thing About Hard Things
  14. Obviously Awesome
  15. Crossing the Chasm
  16. The Lean Startup

Swipe to Unlock!

Swipe to Unlock product management book by Aditya Agashe, Neel Mehta, and Parth Detroja

Subtitle: The Primer on Technology and Business Strategy

Author: Aditya Agashe, Neel Mehta, and Parth Detroja

Time to read (est. 300 words/minute): 5 hours and 21 minutes

Audiobook available: No

Swipe to Unlock was written in 2017 by three product managers at Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. And it delivers.

In short, the book will give you an understanding of today’s tech scene and get you to appreciate some of the strategic decisions tech giants have made in the last decade.

You will get acquainted with important tech concepts like algorithms, big data, and operating systems, but you’ll also find out how these technologies have impacted the consumer market as we know it today. For example: Why does Amazon offer free delivery even though it loses the company money? Or: Why does Asia rely so heavily on QR codes for payments?

Inspired

Inspired product management book by Marty Cagan

Subtitle: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

Author: Marty Cagan

Time to read: 6 hours 8 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Marty Cagan is a prominent product management executive and thought leader. He has worked with companies like eBay, AOL, Netscape Communications and Hewlett-Packard.

In Inspired, Cagan dissects some of today’s most eminent tech companies to break down how to structure and staff a vibrant and successful product organization.

Inspired is a great read for people looking to understand what it takes to deliver technology products that customers will love.

The book is an easy read. It’s filled with case studies, each one offering deeper insight into the processes, frameworks, and decisions that made companies like Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Tesla as large and successful as they are today.

Escaping the Build Trap

Escaping the Build Trap product management book by Melissa Perri

Subtitle: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value

Author: Melissa Perri

Time to read: 3 hours and 32 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Companies get caught in the “build trap” when they lose sight of their users’ problems and satisfaction. When shipping features is no longer a means but an end, something’s gone wrong.

In Escaping the Build Trap, Melissa Perri offers principles that promise to keep teams focused and the customers’ needs at the core of product development.

Escaping the Build Trap is one of the best product management books for product managers, designers, engineers, and tech founders interested in a customer-centric approach that scales.

Cracking the PM Interview

Cracking the PM Interview product management book by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Subtitle: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology

Author: Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Time to read: 6 hours 15 minutes

Audiobook available: No

If you have limited PM experience, this book will help you think through questions you’re likely to encounter during the interview process.

It provides real-life examples of coding, behavioral, business strategy, and estimation questions pulled from interviews at Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and other tech giants.

While this book isn’t your silver bullet to getting your first PM job, it is a must read, especially if you’re new to the field and have little understanding of what you’re going up against.

It’ll also help you refine your resume so you land the interview in the first place.

Hooked

Hooked product management book by Nir Eyal

Subtitle: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Author: Nir Eyal

Time to read: 2 hours and 31 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Hooked will teach you a four-step process to increase your product’s user engagement without having to blow up your marketing budget: 1. Trigger 2. Action 3. Variable Reward, and 4. Investment.

The techniques detailed in the book are the very strategies companies like Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest use to keep their users coming back to their site day after day.

Hooked is incredibly practical, with case studies and behavioral principles that will have you think differently about developing a product people stick to.

If you’re not ready to pick up the book quite yet, check out Nir’s website where he offers free resources that go over some of the important concepts covered in the book. His free “Hooked” introductory class is a good place to start.

Sprint

Sprint product management book by Jake Knapp

Subtitle: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Author: Jake Knapp

Time to read: 4 hours and 48 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Written by three partners at Google Ventures, Sprint delivers a framework to go from idea to prototype and decision in just five days. This is the exact process the author and co-authors used to test ideas and products while working at Google.

While you can read about the sprint methodology just about anywhere on the internet nowadays, this book does a good job at combining all of the essential information in one place, such as prioritization, problem solving, people management, and much more.

Like most books on our list, Sprint cements the concepts it introduces with compelling case studies. It’s an excellent read for product managers and founders alike.

Product Roadmaps Relaunched

Product Roadmaps Relaunched product management book by Bruce McCarthy et al

Subtitle: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty

Authors: Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, C. Todd Lombardo, Michael Connors

Time to read: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Product Roadmap Relaunched offers an innovative perspective on product road maps. It will show you how to make a road map that sets the right expectations across your entire organization and gets all stakeholders on board—ie. product, sales, marketing, executives.

Among many other topics, the book covers defining product vision and strategy, uncovering customers’ needs, and prioritizing product features.

It’s a short read. And if you’re new to product management and have not dabbled much with roadmaps, you will get the fundamental concepts (and more) in this book.

Empowered

Empowered product management book by Marty Cagan

Subtitle: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products

Author: Marty Cagan

Time to read: 5 hours and 43 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Empowered is another great product management book by Marty Cagan.

It discusses what makes a great product team and how to create an environment where the team thrives. He contrasts “feature teams”—which focus on meeting the needs of stakeholders—with “empowered teams”—who work to serve the end customer.

Drawing patterns from some of the world’s top tech companies, Cagan provides a clear blueprint for leaders in product development looking to influence and inspire their teams to deliver at the highest level.

This is a comprehensive project management book that talks about coaching, staffing, product strategy, teamwork, and much more.

The Mom Test

The Mom Test product management book by Rob Fitzpatrick

Subtitle: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

Author: Rob Fitzpatrick

Time to read: 2 hours and 6 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

The Mom Test is a short read about product feedback, namely the many ways it can go wrong and how to do it better.

When asked what they think about an or a product directly, most people will lie in order to avoid conflict and preserve their relationship with the person asking. So what can one do to receive honest and valuable feedback?

The Mom Test provides a checklist of techniques and principles one can rely on to see through the smokescreen of polite talk and bad data, and collect useful insight about their product.

This is one of the best project management books for people in the product discovery stage of product development.

Testing Business Ideas

Testing Business Ideas product management book by David J Bland

Subtitle: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation

Author: David J Bland

Time to read: 6 hours and 8 minutes

Audiobook available: No

Testing Business Ideas is a project management book about testing your ideas’ viability through experimentation.

How do you remove the guesswork and risk that comes with a new business idea? You test it. And the earlier you can test your ideas, the fewer resources you’re likely to waste.

“The only risk you ever have to have in anything you do is an inexpensive test.” – Jay Abraham (Marketing Strategist and Business Executive)

In Testing Business Ideas, Bland shares practical techniques that will teach you how to use the scientific method to test ideas and business models in the early stages of your business.

With lots of colors, illustrations, and templates, Testing Business Ideas reads more like a field guide than a book. Each chapter has clear action steps you can implement right away to get answers about your ideas and get moving.

Principles of Product Management

Principles of Product Management product management book by Peter Yang

Subtitle: How to Land a PM Job and Launch Your Product Career

Author: Peter Yang

Time to read: 3 hours

Audiobook available: No

Principles of Product Management is a crash course in product management for those starting out in the field.

It will introduce you to key concepts like product discovery, business strategy, effective communication, decision making, and leadership.

There’s an entire section in the book dedicated to helping you land your first job as a PM, from finding the right company to work for to preparing the different kinds of interviews.

It’s a short, easy-to-understand, and value-packed book that will equip you with the fundamental knowledge you need to take your first steps in the world of product management.

The Lean Product Playbook

The Lean Product Playbook product management book by Dan Olsen

Subtitle: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

Author: Dan Olsen

Time to read: 5 hours and 6 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

The Lean Product Playbook is a guide to building great products that stand the test of time.

It presents a 7-step process that involves identifying a market opportunity, creating an MVP, testing it, and iterating until there is a product-market fit. It borrows concepts from lean, agile, UX design, and analytics.

Every step outlined in the book is accompanied by real-life examples that facilitate the learning of the concepts. You’ll also hear about how to use agile development to build your product and how to optimize your product further.

The Lean Product Playbook will be especially valuable to you if you’re a founder who’s new to the Lean methodology. And if you’re not, you might still find it a good read as it may a shine light on some of your blind spots.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Thing About Hard Things product management book by Ben Horowitz

Subtitle: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Author: Ben Horowitz

Time to read: 5 hours and 4 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Startup advice from one of Silicon Valley’s most esteemed entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, Ben Horowitz.

Horowitz shines some light on the less glamorous aspects of starting and running a business like dealing with difficult employees, letting people go, knowing when to give up versus persevere, leading in times of uncertainty, poaching clients, and a lot more.

This book was written with founders in mind. If you are leading your own product company, it will help you navigate the difficult decisions you will sooner or later have to make.

Note Horowitz wrote the book in a rather casual tone and includes some vulgarity. It may not be to everyone’s taste.

Obviously Awesome

Obviously Awesome product management book by April Dunford

Subtitle: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It

Author: April Dunford

Time to read: 1 hour and 56 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Obviously Awesome is all about positioning. April Dunford offers a 10-step process to finding and communicating your product’s competitive advantage effectively with lots of examples.

This is the process Dunford used to launch 16 products in her 25 years as a marketing executive for startups.

Following Dunford’s advice, you’ll be able to break through a crowded market and create a context for your product that makes it easy to understand and buy.

Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm product management book by Geoffrey A. Moore

Subtitle: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream

Author: Geoffrey A. Moore

Time to read: 5 hours and 2 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

Crossing the Chasm reveals strategies to narrow the gap that exists between the “early adopter” phase and the “early majority” phase of the Technology Adoption Lifecycle.

Because innovators and early adopters have different needs and values than the mainstream market, companies need to change how they market their products at each stage of the life cycle.

With lots of real-life examples of successes and failures to cross the chasm, Moore drives some important concepts that product managers, marketers, and founders of high-tech companies alike will need to grasp to grow beyond the point of early adoption.

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup product management book by Eric Ries

Subtitle: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Author: Eric Ries

Time to read: 4 hours and 28 minutes

Audiobook available: Yes

More than just a book, The Lean Startup has become a widely-adopted methodology for running startups.

The Lean Startup is a scientific approach startups can leverage to move fast and stay ahead of change. The book is divided into three major themes: Vision, Steer, and Accelerate. And each chapter of the book describes a step in the lean methodology.

It explains important concepts of product management like Minimum Viable Product (MVP), actionable metrics (in contrast to vanity metrics), validated learning, split testing, and prioritization.

In addition, Ries shares principles borrowed from lean manufacturing that will help product managers sharper their thinking and become more productive.

Featured image: Pedro Belleza (CC BY 2.0)