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Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home Hardcover – April 10, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An April 2007 Significant 7 Editors' Pick: Funny, engaging, and oh-so-practical, Send is the ultimate etiquette handbook for email, making David Shipley and Will Schwalbe the "Miss Manners" resource for the digital age. Full of practical insights, Send is an invaluable resource for anyone who uses email, and is guaranteed to help you "think before you click." We are not the only fans of this important book. We asked psychologist, science journalist, and bestselling author Daniel Goleman to read Send and give us his take. Check out his exclusive guest review below. --Daphne Durham

Guest Reviewer: Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses, and is the author of many bestselling books, including Emotional Intelligence and most recently, Social Intelligence.

Poor Michael Brown. During the darkest days of the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Brown, then director of FEMA, the agency that so badly bungled the rescue efforts, sent this email: "Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?"

Emails can come back to haunt us--any of us. Few among us have mastered this medium, and only slowly are we realizing its dangers.

From the earliest days of email people "flamed", sending off irritating or otherwise annoying messages. One explanation for the failure to inhibit our more unruly impulses online is a mismatch between the screen we stare at as we email, and the cues the social circuits of the brain use to navigate us through an interaction effectively: on email there is no tone of voice, no facial expression. When we talk to someone on the phone or face-to-face these circuits would ordinarily squelch impulses that will seem "off." Lacking these crucial cues, flaming occurs.

It's not just flaming--I've sent my fair share of emails that were, in retrospect, embarrassing, too familiar or formal, or otherwise wrong in tone. Email invites these lapses in social intelligence in part because the social brain flies blind. In the absence of the other person's real-time emotional signals we need to take a moment to shift from focusing on our own feelings and thoughts, and intentionally focus on the other person, even in absentia, and consider, How might this message come across?

The peril of being off-key is amplified by the temptation to hit SEND prematurely: before we've thought it over and had a chance to ease up on that too-stiff tone, drop that bit of sarcasm, and remember to ask about the kids.

In the old days of letter writing--a dying art--we had plenty of time to rewrite before sealing the envelope, and so flaming letters were far more rare than red-hot emails. And so the brave new world of email could benefit from a civilizing force, a voice that articulates the ground rules online.

Enter Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, a new book by David Shipley (an old friend of mine) and Will Schwalbe. Send not only articulates the way to win--or keep--friends online, but offers practical tips on both email etiquette and on the writing style most suitable.

In this witty and wise book Shipley and Schwalbe give essential guidance on vital matters like the politics of using Cc (nobody likes to be left out); when to just reply and when to "Reply All"; the danger of the URGENT subject (too many and you cry wolf); fine-tuning your greetings to fit the relationship (if you use the wrong one, you can lose them at hello); how best to apologize online (put the word 'sorry' in the subject or else the email may never be read).

But Send is far more than Miss Manners for the Web; it's brimming with fascinating insights. For example, now that email has become the way we talk, showing up in person has added impact as the ultimate compliment, signifying that the person, meeting or project has special importance for you.

Years ago a slim volume by Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, laid out the ground rules for good writing; the book became a bible for authors, widely known just as "Strunk and White." Send should make Shipley and Schwalbe the "Strunk and White" for the Web. --Daniel Goleman (www.danielgoleman.info)

From Publishers Weekly

From this essential guidebook's opening sentence—"Bad things can happen on email"—Shipley and Schwalbe make all too clear what can go wrong. E-mail's ubiquity, with casual and formal correspondence jumbled in the same inbox, makes misunderstandings common; e-mail's inexpressive, text-only format doesn't help. Given its brief history, there's no established etiquette for usage, which is why this primer is so valuable. It promises the reader hope of becoming more efficient and less annoying, reducing danger of a career-ending blunder. Brisk, practical and witty, the book aims to improve the reader's skills as sender and recipient: devising effective subject lines and exploring "the politics of the cc"; how to steer clear of legal issues; and how to recognize different types of attachments. Using real-life examples from flame wars and awkward exchanges (including their own), Shipley and Schwalbe (op-ed editor of the New York Times and Hyperion Books' editor-in-chief) explain why people so often say "incredibly stupid things" in their outgoing messages. "Email has a tendency to encourage the lesser angels of our nature," they note. They also offer "seven big reasons to love email," along with quick guides to instant messaging and e-mail technology, all the while urging us to "think before [we] send." (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307263649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307263643
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Stephenson on June 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Shipley and Schwalbe focus on tone. They remind us that communication in person, and to a lesser degree on the telephone, carries with it far more information than words on a screen. Tedious volumes have been written on nuance conveyed by the angle of the speaker's eyebrows, and most people seem to have picked up the concept somewhere. To counteract email's lack of tone, though, Shipley recommends inserting emoticons, those annoying little graphics meant to suggest smiley faces or winks.

Perhaps more helpful are the suggestions to stop, read, and think before hitting the "Send" command: Check your spelling, punctuation and word choice - is your meaning clear? Cut the fluff. Consider your position in relation to the recipient. Avoid frivolous requests or demands. Understand that everything you write can be permanently saved, searched, and sent to others. Learn how to clean up your hard drive, but understand that corporate backups retain copies of every document and porno pic you've ever sent or received -- except for that one essential document you need.

S & S give much attention to the "To," "Cc" and "Bcc" lines. Here's a helpful suggestion: "Never forward anything without permission, and assume everything you write will be forwarded." When responding to an email addressed and/or copied to a group, should you "Reply" or "Reply all"? The social and political ramifications of such questions get quite a few pages.

The emotional content of email gets some ink too. Flame wars are discussed, as well as the wisdom of using email to fire employees or initiate divorce proceedings. The authors argue convincingly that some messages are best delivered in person, despite the personal risk.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here's a book that has been climbing up the bestseller charts the past week or so--Send: the Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home by David Shipley and Will Schwable.

Guy Kawasaki called the book "the Elements of Style" of email. I don't believe I'd go that far. It isn't exactly a reference you can pick up again and again. There is some how-to, but don't expect to learn how to manage your email or how to use an email program. Once you read the book through, you are done. I am impressed with their blurbage on the book--Bill Bryson says, "This is just the book I've been waiting for."

There is some good information here about when to send email (and when to phone), how to write an email, the pitfalls of emotion in email, and how to avoid legal trouble. But as an experienced email user, I didn't learn anything new in the book--except that maybe I'm guilty of being a little casual in my communications. Hey! Hey! Hey! That's who I am. :-) :-) :-) :-P
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Format: Hardcover
"Send" is smart, timely, entertaining, a good investment -- and, as a reference book, a keeper. It combines the pithy good sense of Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" with the tongue-in-cheek humor of H. W. Fowler's "Modern English Usage" to produce the equivalent of Amy Vanderbilt's "Etiquette" for the e-set.

While most of us take emailing for granted (and, unfortunately, never -- or only rarely -- think about how our message might be received at the other end), David Shipley and Will Schwalbe take us behind the electronic curtain to show us that digital yellow-brick roads might well conceal oodles of anti-personnel devices, most of them of our own unconscious design.

"All ye who enter here..." might do well to stand at the portal to the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, there's no such warning. And so, all of us -- too glibly, too happily, too unreflectively -- bound through without first taking the time to learn some basic do's and don't's.

Shipley and Schwalbe have compiled such a list -- and have provided anecdotes and illustrations aplenty to make digesting that list an eminently enjoyable undertaking. If, for example, you should ever experience "a sudden chill in the ether," you need only turn to page 131 to discover a possible source of the temperature drop between you and your pretended e-pal(s).

While "Five Words That Almost Everyone Misuses" (p. 121) certainly wasn't necessary to any reader who's spent a pleasantly sardonic afternoon with Mr. or Mrs. Malaprop, "This Is Annoying How" is the kind of literary circus act that leaves us gasping with delight.

If you're one of those readers who enjoyed Lynn Truss's "Eats(,) Shoots & Leaves" -- not only for its usefulness, but also for its moxy -- "Send" is your kind of book. If you're NOT that kind of reader, buy it anyway -- it may save (you) a friend.
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Format: Hardcover
Send is an essential primer on email composition, interpretation, etiquette, and practicalities. It serves as a good refresher course for any modern professional or personal computer user, no matter how long you've been using email. Even if you already know the importance of assigning people to the to: vs. cc: lines, what bcc: does, and how to compose a signature block, the anecdotal examples and email/text/letter/phone call decision tree are of benefit to anyone.

I was most impressed by the authors' own example of email correspondence with their editor. They reprint some terse emails with their editor and discuss the two possible interpretations of his tone and wording (each author had a different interpretation; was the editor insisting that they send some progress notes immediately?). The exchange back and forth perfectly illustrates the way emails might be mis-composed or mis-interpreted, setting up the need for this primer.

Send is a short book full of funny theoretical examples such as Bill Gates composing emails from his microsoft.com address, gatesfoundation address, and his hotmail.com address. It's packed with illustrative examples and practical advice about why email is both so fantastic and so troublesome. (Did you know that 70% of calls end up in voicemail? Why not send an email? When should you call instead?) The double-edged sword of email is how fast it can be composed. Email is appropriately used for everything from informal to formal conversation, so one must be cognizant of the larger context of their email composition.

Authors David Shipley and Will Schwalbe remind us to "think before you send" and to "send email you would like to receive." The book is accompanied by an appendix on deciphering email headers, and full index, and bibliographical notes.
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