The metaverse has exploded in interest over the past few years, with companies across web3 cropping up quickly. McKinsey estimates that the metaverse will be worth $5trn by 2030, which only illustrates its massive potential. While exciting, the topic is also clouded in confusion. What exactly is the metaverse? And why are so many companies across the space, from virtual reality (VR) juggernauts to scrappy augmented reality (AR) agencies appearing out of the blue? And most importantly, what is the commercial opportunity? This is where the best metaverse books come in.
I understand the confusion. I navigated the space in my own way, speaking to experts on the metaverse and, over time, understanding it more and more. But it took me time, and a good book helps to curate the waterfall of information into a digestible form. A good book goes a long way, and there are already a number of great titles to read. With that said, here are a selection of my favourite reads to curl up with – whether in a bath, sofa, or out in the garden.
One final thought. Many of the books are not strictly about the metaverse, and focus more on VR or AR. But do not think that they are irrelevant – far from it. The technologies underpin everything we are seeing today, and it is worth reading about both to get a comprehensive overview.
Alongside reading the books; if you would like some weekly analysis of the metaverse, I encourage you to check out the Immersive Wire newsletter.
With a list of top books to consider, it’s a good time as any to mention I published my own title as well. The Metaverse: A Professional Guide gives experts insights and guidance on how to navigate the burgeoning world of immersive technologies. By the end, you will have a firm grasp of the metaverse and all the contingent technologies that link to its foundations.
Like you, I was frustrated with the confusion in the space. I wanted to give a concise and sweeping overview of the area, so that people have a firm grasp of the concept by its end. If that sounds interesting, then give it a go.
- A concise overview of the metaverse;
- Actionable insights on spatial computing;
- Takes a cautious approach with NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
More on the business end of the metaverse, The Augmented Workforce is one of the best immersive technology pieces to have come out in recent years. Written by futurist Cathy Hackl and tech leader John Buzzell, the book gives a great overview of the ways in which immersive technologies are impacting businesses, now and into the future.
The book also goes way beyond the metaverse as well, integrating emerging technology trends such as 5G and IoT. The strength of the book is that it showcases how the technologies interact with one another, and how professionals can prepare themselves.
- Dips into the nuances of spatial computing;
- Investigates the importance of 5G and IoT (among many other trends);
- Perfect for businesses investigating the space.
It is difficult to avoid the long shadow cast by Snow Crash. The bestselling science fiction book by Neal Stephenson – who now runs Lamina1 – is one of the first books to outline a potential metaverse and its effects on humankind.
The book is dystopian and fictional, so it should not be taken as gospel. With that said, it is worth a look at this list as it is an often-cited title within the space. Have a read, and interpret the metaverse in your own way. Just do not let it shape the future as you consider it.
- A classic science fiction book on the metaverse;
- Forms the basis of metaverse discussions today;
- A fun fictional read, rather than a business handbook.
I’ve always bent toward ethics and technology. It is a fascinating area of exploration, underpinning the ‘why’ behind what we do (or should not do). David Chalmers provides a compelling argument in Reality+ by exploring whether virtual reality is actual reality. The book provides a compelling case.
What I like about it is that it provides the overlay to our activities with immersive technologies, painting a vivid and beautiful picture of the ethics we need to consider. The text can be absorbed during commutes or in bed, and it provides an interesting overlay on the metaverse as well. Combined, it is one of the best metaverse books to buy.
- Explores an important element of the metaverse ;
- Well-written and easy to read;
- Less technical, yet no less important.
At the time of writing, this book is coming out in mid-July. Yet if his previous works are anything to come by, this will be an essential read for everyone. Matthew Ball is one of the seminal experts on the topic; his essay series, The Metaverse Primer, is a foundational text that has been cited (and often not credited) by companies and professionals across the world. For example, Mark Zuckerberg also credits the series as he continues to build his vision via Meta.
An essential one to pick up, The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything is a key read for anyone who wants to not only go knee-deep into the topic, but head-first as well.
- Written by a foremost leader in the space;
- Outlines the framework of the metaverse;
- Bound to be a top seller in the space.
I thought carefully about adding Ready Player One. On the one hand, it has single-handedly shaped how millions see the metaverse, in a potentially inaccurate way. I still come across many people who believe that VR is a necessity for the metaverse, while there are persuasive arguments that AR will form its core as well.
On the other hand, I must recognise its influence as well. it has impacted how the public sees the future, and it is worth looking into why if you have the time. Just don’t pick up its sequel; it is not the best.
- Impacted how millions see the metaverse, for better and worse;
- A fun and easy read, perfect for holidays;
- Not as authoritative as other titles on the list.
The book is an older title that still stands the test of time. Meta’s acquisition of Oculus spurred the growth of virtual reality in the mid-2010s and formed the bedrock of the immersive technologies we see today. Blake Harris provides a fantastic overview of Oculus and its growth, and its relationship with the social media giant over time.
The book is more historical than technical, exploring the roots of the immersive reality revolution we are seeing today. As someone who has studied history at university, I know the value of studying the past to inform the future. The History of the Future is a fantastic insight into one of the most important companies in virtual reality, which in turn informs the metaverse as well.
- A historical view of Oculus, an important company in VR;
- Insightful overview of its relationship with Meta;
- Gives great lessons for the future of the metaverse.
Jaron Lanier is a legend in immersive technologies. As a pioneer for over three decades, he is one of the earliest forces in VR that drove much of the activity. With that perspective, Dawn of the New Everything explores the power and potential of VR when it comes to human creativity and ingenuity.
I appreciate that this is a list of the best metaverse books, and I have included a title which focuses on VR. From my perspective, immersive technologies are foundational for the development and evolution of the space. Many of the lessons and insights also relate to spatial computing as we get more connected in virtual spaces. For that, Dawn of the New Everything is a fantastic read.
- Written by a pioneering force in VR;
- Great insights into how immersive technologies will impact us;
- Forms the basis of discussions with the metaverse.
Jeremy Dalton is a leading figure in the UK, as he heads up the immersive technologies and metaverse side of PwC. With years of consulting experience under his belt, he provides a great handbook on how VR and AR technologies are benefitting organisations around the world.
The book is great for those who are newer to the space, and would like a great overview of the industry and its applications. The title is more for B2B leaders, but as we all know, the innovations within business applications have a habit of leaping into consumer products as well. Reality Check is for the professionals looking to the future.
- A great business book on VR and AR;
- An easy read for any aspiring professional;
- Addresses common misconceptions with the technology.
When the metaverse and web3 came to the forefront of conversations, the space was littered with a lot of confusion. Navigating the Metaverse cuts to the chase and provides an overview of the economic and business potential of spatial computing, with deep dives into all relevant areas. This is another title from Cathy Hackyl, alongside Dirk Lueth, Tommaso Di Bartolo, John Arkontaky, and Yat Siu.
Of all the books in this list, it provides the most detailed overview of web3 and its potential. For professionals who stick it out, it is one of the best metaverse books to buy today.
- Provides frameworks on the metaverse and web3;
- In-depth and insightful rather than surface-level;
- Covers NFTs and the crypto side of spatial computing as well.
Again, this is another book which does not touch on the metaverse; it is more of a business guide, similar to Reality Check. But like Jeremy Dalton’s book, it provides a comprehensive overview of how VR can impact businesses, geared towards entrepreneurs who want to start their own business.
Having read it as an ebook in 2020, it’s a great way to get started in VR, and then transfer the learnings toward building metaverse products.
- A great introduction to VR
- Geared towards entrepreneurs starting their own businesses;
- More of an introduction, with other books in the list provided deeper dives into the metaverse itself.
Best metaverse books for professionals (Conclusion)
Ultimately, the best title for you comes down to personal preference. I have included a range of VR and AR titles as they are foundational for understanding the metaverse, because the immersive technologies walked so that spatial computing can run. Reality Check and Navigating the Metaverse both provide fantastic overviews of its potential, and are a great starting point for professionals who wish to dive in.
Other titles provide wider context and analysis. For example, Reality+ is a more philosophical outlook (though no less important), while The History of the Future provides lessons that we can learn in the future. And because of its legacy, Snow Crash is worth a read as well.
What you gravitate towards is up to you. I would keep an open mind and keep absorbing information, from authors who have done the legwork and analysed the space in great detail. If you wish to learn more about the metaverse as a whole, with timely insights each week, I recommend subscribing to the Immersive Wire below.
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Curated by Tom Ffiske every Wednesday and Sunday, and enjoyed by 4,400 professionals.
Editor, Immersive Wire
Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a twice-weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.