Bitcoin has changed the way we send money online, and the cryptocurrency market as a whole. From companies like Ripple, which focus on the use of cryptocurrencies for fast money transfers, to coins like Monero that offer a more private way to send and receive funds, additional crypto uses arise every day. Facebook has even announced the development of its own cryptocurrency in order to easily facilitate transactions on its Messenger platform.
Learning about and understanding how blockchain technology, the basic building block of cryptocurrency interactions, works can help you gain a competitive edge in this emerging market. We’ve rounded up some of the best blockchain books currently available, along with additional information you’ll need to know about what makes a great blockchain resource.
Quick Look: The Best Blockchain Books To Read Right Now
Best for Beginners
Best for Intermediate Enthusiasts
Best for Advanced Knowledge
It’s impossible to talk about Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, without mentioning the blockchain. A blockchain is an open, publicly-viewable ledger that records every time a cryptocurrency is sent or received and the addresses that participated in the transaction. In theory, the blockchain allows you to view a record of every single Bitcoin that’s ever been sent or received.
Blockchain technology, at its core, is resistant to tampering and being changed because it uses a decentralized system to store data, removing the risks that arise with having something stored in a single space. Though it’s not impossible to change the data attached to an individual block retroactively, it would require the consensus of a majority of computers on the blockchain, which in some cases can be hundreds of thousands of machines.
Blockchain technology was invented in 2008 to act as a public ledger to record Bitcoin transactions by an anonymous individual or group using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
Nakamoto created blockchain as a solution to the double-spending problem, which is a flaw in digital currency transactions. It allows a user to exploit data to spend a single token multiple times before data records that the token has been spent. Blockchain technology is unique in this solution because it solves the double-spending problem without the need for a central server.
This serves the original purpose of Bitcoin as an anonymous payment system that’s resistant to hacking. Trading cryptocurrency like Bitcoin largely depends upon blockchain technology to record secure payments, ensure that you get your money quickly and that your payment isn’t corrupted while being sent and diverted to another wallet.
The use of private blockchains has been proposed for private business usage, though this technology is still in the very early stages of its infancy. Most altcoins (cryptocurrencies that are not Bitcoin) rely on their own blockchain systems to send and receive payments.
How to Pick a Great Blockchain Book
1. Pick a book at your technical skill level
Selling Bitcoin, Ripple mining, and trading altcoins is exciting – but if you’ve never studied computer science or programming, you might find more advanced texts to be difficult or impossible to understand. Choose a book that matches your technical skill level. If you find yourself stopping multiple times a chapter to look up definitions or re-reading a page before you really understand what you’ve read, don’t be afraid to put the book down and choose an easier read.
2. Start with a general overview, then working your way into specifics
Most blockchain books begin with a description of how blockchain technology works, but if you are totally new to selling Bitcoin and buying altcoins, you may want to devote more time to understanding how blockchains operate. Because most cryptocurrencies use their own blockchains, giving yourself a firm understanding of blockchain can help you make informed decisions when trading.
Even if you’ve bought or sold cryptocurrency before, and you consider yourself to be an intermediate user, it’s still recommended that you brush up on the basics regularly to keep your information sharp. After you’ve mastered the basics of blockchain, move onto texts that cover future financial uses, limitations and potential.
3. Research authors and make sure you’re not being sold a product
The best blockchain books don’t pitch one particular altcoin as superior to the hundreds of coins on the market. Before committing to a particular text, do a quick search on the author to see if he or she is associated with a certain cryptocurrency. If so, you may not be getting totally accurate information.
You should be suspicious if your book claims that buying altcoins from a particular exchange or buying a single altcoin is a guaranteed path to riches, especially if you’ve never heard of the coin or exchange before or if the book does little to explain how the coin differs from industry leaders like Bitcoin and Litecoin.
The Best Blockchain Books
Best for Beginners
1. Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper
Digital Gold is the perfect place for a total beginner to begin learning about blockchain technology and why tech enthusiasts are so excited about its possibilities. Penned by a New York Times reporter who was granted access to some of the earliest conversations regarding the creation, programming, and refinement of blockchain technology, Popper details the adventures of the quirky millionaires, programmers and even criminals who devoted themselves to creating a new form of money for the age of the internet.
You don’t need to have any form of background in technology to read and enjoy Digital Gold as the book focuses more on the interesting characters involved in the genesis of Bitcoin rather than a technical explainer on how blockchain works. Overall, it’s a fun read that covers the bare bones of blockchain technology and its origins complemented by genuine journalism. Digital Gold is a great jumping-off point for the blockchain enthusiast looking for a thrilling and engaging book.
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2. Blockchain Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction in 25 Steps by Daniel Dresher
Blockchain Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction is a simple technical explainer that dips its toes into the waters of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Like Digital Gold, you don’t need to have any prior computer programming knowledge to read and understand Blockchain Basics. However, Blockchain Basics is for the reader who’s less interested in the story of blockchain and the people who invented it but who want to understand how it works. The book offers a general crash-course in what blockchain technology is, what problems it can potentially solve, its limitations and how we might see it incorporated in the future.
Blockchain Basics is written with the total beginner in mind, taking complex concepts and breaking them down into easy-to-digest paragraphs that the average user can understand. You won’t find any formulas, code or jargon here, but you will find a very general overview of the technology that powers Bitcoin and its altcoin spinoffs. Well-written and carefully targeted, Blockchain Basics is the perfect bridge between expert-level computer science books on the blockchain and business books with more entertainment value than actual information on how cryptocurrencies function.
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1. Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Is Changing the World by Dan and Alex Tapscott
If you already have a basic understanding of how blockchain tech works but you’d like to know more about how Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrencies are utilized, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Is Changing the World is a great resource. Packed with technical information alongside simply-written chapters on where blockchain will take us with more development, Blockchain Revolution is an informative yet casual read for the cryptocurrency investor or enthusiast.
The book begins with an explainer of blockchain technology, but largely assumes that you’re a long-term investor looking to learn about where Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will go in the future. If you already have a solid grasp on the basics of how blockchain operates but would like to learn more about how the technology can be advanced to address some of the network security issues within the finance industry, Blockchain Revolution offers the perfect blend of readability, engagement and technical information for the serious long-term cryptocurrency investor.
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2. Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar
If you are interested less in the technical side of cryptocurrency and more about its investment potential, Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond offers a unique mix of programming education and information about how you can use traditional investment strategies to effectively maximize and diversify your crypto portfolio. Cryptoassets is written with the assumption that you have a rough idea of how blockchain technology operates but the book also includes a handy taxonomy chart that can help clear up some of the most common cryptocurrency misunderstandings that even the well-versed may make.
Written by two industry insiders, the book focuses on providing tips for creating actionable criteria you can use to value currencies and decide which ones are worth investing in, an especially useful tool considering that there are now over 800 altcoins available on exchanges like Binance. Cryptoassets offers portfolio and wallet management techniques and the book isn’t overly focused on the programming aspect of blockchain, which makes it more readable for the intermediate investor.
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Best for Advanced Knowledge
1. Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain is considered one of the most comprehensive resources ever written on cryptocurrency programming. If you want to skip the basics of blockchain that begin most books on Bitcoin and get straight to the nitty-gritty, Mastering Bitcoin should be your first stop. A technically solid and informative read, Antonopoulos’ text is jam-packed with useful information for the advanced Bitcoin and blockchain programmer with a rock-solid foundation.
The book is written for an audience of professional tech enthusiasts and computer programmers; the average reader will not understand most of what is recorded and will find the text dry and unmanageable. However, if you have an in-depth knowledge of the major principles of blockchain and you’ve worked with Python and C++, Mastering Bitcoin can teach you about the technicalities of how blockchain operates and even how you can program your own blockchain.
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2. Mastering Ethereum: Building Smart Contracts and DApps by Andreas M. Antonopoulos and Gavin Wood
A smart contract is a computer protocol that enforces the performance of a contract, making it irreversible, permanently recorded and non-negotiable. Another layer of security that can be applied to a blockchain, smart contracts represent one of the latest developments in the cryptocurrency sphere and have been incorporated into the programming of a number of cryptocurrencies including Etherium and Chainlink.
Mastering Ethereum: Building Smart Contracts and DApps is written for the advanced blockchain programmer. It expands upon the principles and programming information laid out in Mastering Bitcoin, teaching you more about how to use smart contracts and DApps (decentralized applications) to enhance the security of your self-encoded cryptocurrencies.
Though those new to blockchain will find very little use or understanding in Mastering Ethereum, the text can be an invaluable resource if you’re in the more advanced stages of creating your own cryptocurrency and who want to learn about the differences between Bitcoin and its major competitors.
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You don’t need to understand exactly how blockchain technology works to get started in cryptocurrency investing. If you understand the traditional principles of investing and buy/sell signals, you can get started. Be aware that cryptocurrencies are unregulated and can be rife with the same scams that plague many penny stocks, including price manipulation and pump-and-dump schemes. Before you invest in an altcoin, ensure that you’re getting the best price possible — it’s impossible to get a refund on a cryptocurrency purchase.