goodroi - 3:14 pm on May 31, 2013 (gmt 0)
If someone is completely new to SEO, I would suggest they read the books to understand how the industry has evolved. There is a little bit of value in looking back to see how SEOs find weaknesses in the ranking algo and exploit them, then seeing how Google responds and closes the exploits. But do not follow the advice in printed books because it is based on very out dated information.
As Ted points out the printed material is out of date. Even the most recent printed book is out of date because there are constant updates. Just a few days ago Google released Penguin 2.0 and by the time a printed book is made that covers Penguin 2.0, Google will likely have released another change.
Personally I read forums and blogs for information but always confirm it with my own tests. Many people claim to be SEO geniuses online yet when you test their claims you often find out they are just filled with hot air.
ps Reading Google patent filings is also interesting to see what they are thinking about, even if they never decide to use the patent