Review: Take Control of Your Paperless Office by Joe Kissell

If you are looking to go paperless in your home or corporate office the book Take Control of Your Paperless Office by Joe Kissell can provide you an outline of what you need to consider in the process. It gives specific recommendations for equipment and workflow. However, if you are not fully ensconced in the Mac environment, some of the recommendations will not be that helpful. Even though the cover gives no indication of this, the book is heavily weighted towards Mac users. This does not mean that Windows and Linux users won’t benefit from the book, but they will need to find their own set of software tools since the other platforms are covered very lightly.

Book coverSeveral pages in the book are dedicated to educating the reader on why they should consider going paperless. Scanning and archiving every piece of paper that comes through your hands (and then throwing it away or shredding it) may not sound very appealing, but Mr. Kissell gives some compelling reasons why it will help you in the long run when you are trying to find specific information. Even though you won’t have the original items of many documents, you also will have fewer storage and retrieval problems. By the way, not every item needs to be shredded or tossed. The author helps you know what you should keep and what is safe to throw away.

While the software and workflow recommendations are platform specific, hardware choices are a little easier. The book explains different types of scanners and why you might choose one over another. Within the different types the author gives you a list of recommended scanners. Each one has features that can help you accomplish your scanning needs. Regardless of which specific scanner you choose there are many settings that will be the same on all of them. He tells you why you should choose the settings he recommends.

Because of the hardware choices and settings recommendations this book is helpful for anyone wanting to decrease their dependence on paper. But, it would have been better had the author provided more information for the other operating systems.

For many of us, we would feel overwhelmed at even getting started. After he tells you how to set up your software, hardware and workflow, the author gives some tips for catching up on the 20 year’s worth of paper you already have piled in your office.

The majority of the book deals with scanning documents then filing them locally and off-site. However, there are many other ways to go paperless. The book deals with sending and receiving faxes via email, signing documents digitally and how to cut down on your need to print as much.

This is certainly not a book for casual reading. I would only recommend this if you are serious about cutting down your dependence on paper. If you are only interested in learning how to effectively scan a few documents, this book probably goes into much more detail than what you need.

I read version 1.1 of the book on my Kindle. Like many reference books, the Kindle is probably not the best device to read on. If you find yourself needing to jump back 8 pages to get a snippet of information then it is pretty frustrating. Was it really 8 pages? Or was it 6? Or 10? The nice thing about the ebook is that you don’t have to read it on just one platform. The publishers let you download various formats once you buy the book.

[Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book through O’Reilly Media.]

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