How helpful are 37Signals' books?


I've heard much about the books of 37Signals: Getting Real and REWORK. Just how helpful are they? Are they really worth reading?

Books 37signals

asked Nov 22 '10 at 14:07
Apophenia Overload
133 points
  • You can try this one for free I think - - tell us what you think – Tim J 13 years ago
  • In general those guys are going to tell you what worked for them and they are also going to use a lot of hyperbole and make brash statements to get attention. From what I read of rework they make a bold, general statement, then seem to back pedal a bit in the explanation. If it gets you motivated and doing stuff then it is worth it - but the bottom line is you have to go out and make it happen - they aren't going to be able to provide all the answers - no one is. – Tim J 13 years ago

7 Answers


Both their books are quick reads and worth the couple hours you would invest. That said, you likely aren't going to come away from either with a profound new understanding of anything.

You could wrap both up into a couple bullet points.

  • Keep things simple. It will save you time, money and make your customers happier.
  • Work within and embrace your constraints.
  • Don't hire until you absolutely have to.


answered Nov 22 '10 at 14:48
Kyle West
708 points


I file everything by 37signals under the "potentially quite helpful, but take it with a handful of salt" category, the same place I put Seth Godin.

At times they have some really lucid and sensible insights but a lot of the time their cocky attitudes make their thoughts unpalatable.

You'll take the bad with the good, but are their books worth reading? Emphatically, yes.

answered Nov 23 '10 at 00:59
Jason Swett
555 points
  • Totally agree. It is good to be successful. We all appreciate it. But the people we really should listen to with awe are people who have created great stuff, and companies that last centuries. I have worked in a company that grew very large in a short time and was a real great success, but they did have to change a lot of stuff as they grew very fast. A very good example, how many people who thought 'Dont be Evil' , how great is that to be so cool in 2004 do not revere Google? My personal moto 'Times change, beliefs change, and so do people' – Anurag 13 years ago
  • Excellent points! I've been skimming through Getting Real from the book's website. I was actually also wondering if it was worth buying and owning in hard copy. – Apophenia Overload 13 years ago
  • Why not start with buying Rework and if you like that enough, buy Getting Real? – Jason Swett 13 years ago
  • Why Rework first? – Apophenia Overload 13 years ago


I personally think they are well written books, with great advice for entrepreneurs.

Different things work for different people. It always pays to listen to and understand the perspective of bright people.

I personally believe, different styles of management are needed when things are going well and when things are going awry. I also believe that a lot changes when companies grow beyond a certain point.

So I would treat these as some very good ideas for startups, yet still keep an open mind while running your own business. The advice should not be treated as gospel, as it is based on the the experiences of some really bright people, in the right place at the right time. A lot of the advice is not applicable for large companies.

answered Nov 23 '10 at 01:29
688 points


It would be cliche to say Rework "changed the way I think about sitting down at my desk to bang out projects"... but it kinda did.

You can go back and read the lessons any time (they are only 1-2 pages). They are terse, which might put some people off who like long winded explanations, but effective. And last but not least it leaves you with the understanding that a few guys with solid skills, good ideas, and a penchant for not having any bullshit - like bloat, bureaucracy, or super strict rules - in the workplace have built a successful company that they can be happy to work at every day and is the envy of many in the web app world.

I would also suggest Made to Stick by the Heath brothers. It isn't about work processes or business building but about how to create messages that people remember. If you have an app that is really valuable to people but you can't tell them how it will help them your less likely to see any real success.

answered Nov 22 '10 at 20:05
David Maguire
29 points


I think they are great insights into lean startups. Not that this would work for you, but it's nice to have another point of view of the entreprenurial process, not only the "get-the-money-and-run" approach.

answered Nov 24 '10 at 20:27
184 points


If you've every worked where you felt you were in a "Dilbert" comic strip and wondered is this the way it has to be, read a book by 37Signals.

The concepts are very general. They get to the point and spare the reader from boring 5 page anecdotes (Some writers just don't know how to tell a story.) that are 'suppose' to add clarification and make you feel all good inside.

answered Nov 23 '10 at 08:12
Jeff O
6,169 points


Why dont you download them through a Hotfile123 search and read them for yourself. I read rework and found it to be highly overrated.

answered Nov 22 '10 at 18:05
2,079 points
  • Franky, please keep you pirate sites suggestions to other places. – Ross 13 years ago
  • The text of both books are already available free on the websites from 37Signals themselves. The question is whether or not they're worth the time of reading. – Apophenia Overload 13 years ago
  • flagged, suggesting piracy. ... the text avail on the website is not the same as the rework book in the stores. similar yes. As for the other book, he should just link to it instead. – Ape Inago 13 years ago
  • Its not piracy if they are available for download for free. Its similar to what Tony did with his Zappos book delivering happiness. The reason most of these publishers give out free ebooks is because they know it will generate buzz, (look at this post!!!), and the reason they give out free printed copies is that the FREE prints actually count as sales! And those sales help move you up the charts, and to the front selves of retailers. I was merely suggesting he read them for free rather than buy the hard print versions. THEY ARE OVER RATTED, and OVER HYPED, Thanks to their FREE publicity! – Frank 13 years ago

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