I would not call myself a Bitcoin fanatic, but I’m an enthusiast of the concepts and reasons the new currency was developed. From its inception, I have followed the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as it grew from obscurity to being nearly fully mainstream today. The technology has also spired many spin-offs in the field of cryptocurrencies, yet there is so much more to Bitcoin than just its outer shell. I am more a fan of the underlying blockchain technology and the potential impact it has on future transaction-based systems than Bitcoin itself. In full disclosure, at the time of this review, I do not own any Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies.
The book, “Bitcoin for Beginners: An Introduction to the Revolutionary Cryptocurrency” was written by Michael Peterson and the audiobook edition was narrated by Jimmy Kieffer; who appears to be a newer narrator on Audible. The book is quite small at 32 pages or 29minute for the audiobook. It is intended to be a primer for the beginner who is interested in Bitcoin. Let me say up front, I did not feel this book was either for beginners interested in dipping their feet into the technology nor was it intended for the more technical person interested in Bitcoin. I found it difficult to understand the author’s intended audience as he often spewed terms or concepts that most people who are unfamiliar with Bitcoin would be lost hearing. Often, terms or acronyms were used throughout the book but never defined or explained. Even common terms such as a “Bitcoin wallet”, were not given the necessary focus to be clear to a new comer. This does not even touch on helping one understand the different types of wallets and why would want one over the another. Very simply, they say something like, “get a wallet from a reputable seller…”. I’m a technically savvy person, and I found following the book confusing, I think more beginners would be frustrated reading this book.
Although the book was rather newly published, at the time of this review, most of the details provided were either incorrect or not up-to-date. The authors assertion that Bitcoin transactions are fast is simply not accurate. Most Bitcoin transactions today, as the technology rapidly grows, are anywhere from ten minutes at best to a few hours or days at worst. This is one of the main reasons for the fork in the protocol back in 2017 and even many newer technologies promising to scale the protocol better for quicker transactions; products such as lightening. The author also said that Bitcoin has no transaction fees like one has with a credit card, yet this also incorrect. With the rise in popularity, there are now tiered fees based on how quickly one would like a transaction to be fulfilled. There is no guarantee, but if you want it to happen quicker, you may be required to pay upwards of 10% in fees. This again does not scale or mirror what the author claims. These are only a few of the things that stood out while listening to the book.
At the time the book was published, Bitcoin was on a rapid rise to the top. However, with its popularity, come other issues that have shown its inability to truly scale and replace traditional currencies. Due to the rapid fluctuations in the price of a Bitcoin, many vendors who accepted them in the past have begun to turn their backs on Bitcoin. We have also seen a recent decline in the value of a single Bitcoin coin from its high of $20,000 USD to $7,500 USD in a few days; a nearly 62% decline. There has also been a focus on banning the purchase of all cryptocurrencies in various countries, and many companies in the space like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal, have said they would not permit the purchase of said cryptocurrencies via their solutions. At times, I felt the author seemed to contradict himself when he talked about the security of the technology, but also said how insecure it can be if one is not careful only a few pages later (relating to storage, but it was not clearly stated).
In relation to the book’s narration, I felt that Jimmy Kieffer did a decent job. It is very hard to judge because the book was so short. I do not recall any audio artifacts such as page turns, swallows, etc. while listening. His voice was clear and the pace the book was read was well done.
In summary, I cannot recommend this book to a person who is beginning the journey with Bitcoin nor anyone else as the details it presents are rapidly changing and a book like this is often outdated when it is published. There are some great primers around the technology and how to get stared with Bitcoin if you search on the Internet. One of the best ways to learn and get stared is to find someone who is already involved. Have them walk you through the process, while also informing you of the pluses and minuses of these commodities. To me, this book felt more like a FAQ document that was taken off then Internet and arranged in an outline form and made into a very short book.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.