All the kids are doing it! Barnes & Noble recently announced Quamut.com, a how-to Web site. The twist here is that some of the how-tos are available as HTML and PDF and on laminated booklets in the stores… (Quamut is apparently derived from Latin and is pronounced kwómut. I guess they’re never going to do radio advertising.)
Start at http://quamut.com/. You’ll see the that the thousand or so topics that are currently available (plans are to add “hundreds of new titles a month”) are divided across five categories: House & Home, Hobbies & Leisure, Money & Business, Computers & Technology, and Mind & Body. There’s also a free Quamut. Today’s is writing an essay. You can read it online or you can download the PDF. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see pointers to a Quamut Wiki (Ooo! How to deep-clean your keyboard!), recently-added Quamuts, and a tag cloud.
I decided I wanted to look at the Quamut on making sushi. The Quamut is divided into several sections, from Sushi and Sashimi Basics to How to Make Scattered Sushi (Chirashi). Each section has copious illustrations but are a bit on the short side. (Which is okay when there are over a dozen sections in one Quamut.)
Looking at the HTML version of the Quamut is free. (It’s ad-supported.) If you want to download a PDF of the material, it’s $2.95 — at least all the ones I looked at are $2.95.
I think some of these topics work better as Quamuts than others. The most popular Quamut at the moment, for example, is a set of shortcuts for Excel 2007. I can see that. On the other hand, the Quamut on investing in mutual funds was only an overview and, while it was good enough to teach me what questions I need to ask, was really only a jumping-off point to more in-depth materials.
It’s kind of hidden, but there is an RSS feed of the newest Quamuts available. I’m not sure I’d buy any of the PDFs, but there were plenty of interesting topics here.