My answer, originally published on Quora.
The Must-Read Books for Product Managers
For product managers working on business-to-business high tech products and early technologies, the following are absolute must-reads:
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, by Geoffrey Moore. This book was pivotal in my transition from an engineering mindset to a product strategy mindset. It explains the concept of the product lifecycle, and the initial success of a new product does not necessarily translate into mass market success.
Inside the Tornado: Strategies for Developing, Leveraging, and Surviving Hypergrowth Markets, by Geoffrey Moore. This book expands on the product lifecycle ideas of "Crossing the Chasm." How to expand a product's market footprint to adjacent market spaces. HIGHLY recommended, for all the same reasons as "Crossing the Chasm."
Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win, by Steven Blank.
Very Worthwhile for Product Managers
The following are not "absolute must-reads" but are very worthwhile:
Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play, by Luke Hohmann.
The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries.
Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love, by Marty Cagan. A collection of essays about product management and product development, most of which center around software. Very well written, and - true to its name - inspiring for product managers.
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur
The Product Manager's Desktop Reference, by Steven Haines.
This 704 page tome is huge and not exactly a thrilling read. But nonetheless it is an excellent reference that has something for everyone, from the novice product manager to the VP of Products with 20 years of product experience.
It covers the entire spectrum of product management activities, and provides excellent ideas, approaches, and ways of thinking for each activity. Over a 3-month period, the CPM found herself reaching for this book often — more than any other book in her product management library. The Cranky Product Manager strongly recommends The Product Manager’s Desk Reference.
The Art of Product Management: Lessons from a Silicon Valley Innovator by Rich Mironov.
Good reads. Easy, breezy. Informative yet FUN essays about product management. Kind of like this blog. Except it is better written. And not cranky. And optimistic and hopeful. And more educational. And by someone who knows a lot more about Product Management than the embittered Cranky Product Manager.)*, by Rich Mironov
Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution, by Geoffrey Moore.
I've read (or attempted to read) about every book on the market with the words "Product Management" or "Product Manager" in the title, and I would only recommend the ones listed above for high-tech product managers.
Many of the other books on Product Management are
- too broad, covering the gamut of banking products, consumer goods, automobiles, as well as high tech, or
- poorly written, or
- perfectly fine and covering the same topics as the books I already listed, but not not as well.