So you know how to use your database software, but do you know how to design a good database?
I got lucky when I found this book. I'd been building a database myself after taking a class on MS Access at my local community college. MS Access is so easy to use that I was comfortable and confident. I'd built many related tables and built several queries, forms and reports. No problems. Everything was working fine.
But with each element I added, I got less confident about the DESIGN of my ever-growing database. It was working fine, but were the tables and relationships optimal? As it grew more complex, was I going to make a mistake? Or find a fundamental flaw in my early assumptions? Classes and tutorials on database programs cover design concepts so briefly because they need to cover a lot of details about how to use the program. This book does the exact opposite. It glosses over how to use your software and focuses on design concepts. In the preface, the author says:
"This book does not assume that any particular DBMS [database management system] product will be used [... so ...] all of the concepts are presented in a DBMS-agnostic manner. When learned this way, students come to understand that the fundamentals pertain to any database [...]"
This is why it's shorter than some reviewers seem to think it should be. It isn't "too short." It's "focused." There are plenty of other books that cover the other stuff. This book is clear, concise and accessible. I'm glad it didn't go into more technical details.
It focuses on database fundamentals, design and administration by explaining what each of the following concepts mean and why they're so important: the relational model, normalization, functional dependencies, data modeling, entity-relation model, client-server model, DBA, concurrency control, security, backup and recovery, and even a bit about SQL (the computer language behind your DBMS). You can skip the SQL chapter if you want. I did.
Final word: This book is a quick read and easy to understand. It is a bit pricey, but if it fills a crucial gap in your knowledge, like it did for me, it's well worth the price.