How to assemble all the ITSM reference library you need for $211

[Updated 13th May 2010]
With seemingly everyone gouging the ITIL user these days, is there an alternative for those of us who can't just (or just can't) get the boss to pay the exorbitant prices? You bet.

For those of you out there who are a bit cash strapped like me, here is the formula for building a formidable body of low-cost knowledge:

  • download COBIT. While you are there get Val IT too. Both free
  • Join ISACA and start downloading dozens of content-rich books and papers. US $130.00 for membership. If you download the following books (as well as COBIT itself and ValIT) you'll have an awesome body of knowledge that I think rivals ITIL:
    • COBIT Control Practices
    • IT Assurance Guide
    • IT Governance Implementation Guide
    • COBIT User Guide for Service Managers

    (Must confess I bought mine because they come in a nice spiral-bound cover for frequent use. But the downloads do print OK especially if your printer does "booklet" format for convenient portable reference)

  • If you don't have $130, then go to the ISACA site anyway. They give away bucket-loads of free IP. (Don't waste your time on the itSMF site or APMG's "ITIL Official Site" or OGC's hilariously named "Knowledge Centre" - they give away SFA)
  • download MOF. Free
  • buy ISO/IEC 20000: An Introduction from ITSM Library and you will have the whole of ISO20000, pretty much, plus gobs of ITIL, for much less than the price of the actual standard. Badly named book: it is much more than an introduction, it is a fully fledged Guide to ISO20000 with most of the text of the standard. $60.39 on Amazon
  • Download itSMF's "Littler ITIL" book An Introductory Overview of ITIL® V3 so you can talk the ITIL talk. Free
  • Use Google search for those rare occasions when you need to look up or quote something specific from the "holy books" of ITIL

Total cost $211 for an awesome body of knowledge spanning ITIL, COBIT, ISO20000 and MOF - all that you need to work or consult in the ITSM industry.

[Update: get Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3 as an online subscription for ten euros a year. This book has all the content of the five ITIL books but more concise and structured once, cohesively, not in five places.]

Any other tips from readers?
[More good suggestions in the comments below...]

Note: these links were current as of June 2009 - check for new versions.

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Core ITIL V3 Books - 'Best Practice Online' - €49,00

All 5 core ITIL V3 Books via itSMF - 'Best Practice Online' for €49,00:

Not the same as printed copies but only about 10% the cost, for those of us who aren't consulting and want to be able to reference the source V3 books.

A little bit kludgy implementation, but searchable. Also offers audio. However, computer-generated voice is decidely 'not' user-friendly and has to be prompted for every page. I like to wear wireless headphones and listen to podcasts, webinars and other audio while doing household chores. With this audio, unfortunately have to go back to PC to turn each page.

Go to the source - please

The online books have long been available from here - the original publishers for OGC. I applaud Ivo and his team for bringing us this economic option against stiff opposition some claim. I encourage my classes and clients to say a small thank you to Ivo and Van Haren by buying direct.

You can get them here ITIL V3 ONLINE Complete Set (english version)

It should be noted that Van

It should be noted that Van Haren run the itsmf bookstore so either option is direct. At least with the itsmf option they get a little bit of commission that goes towards funding the itsmf. :-D

For consultants?

"Total cost $211 for an awesome body of knowledge spanning ITIL, COBIT, ISO20000 and MOF - all that you need to work or consult in the ITSM industry"

I agree that cost of official books is quite expensive, but if you want to "consult" in the ITSM industry for profit, please don't be cheap and buy the books :-)

How can someone be an "ITIL Consultant" without reading the books? I guess that this is the kind of consultants that go to a conference and backup their ideas with an "ITIL says that you should...", without having ever read a single page from the official ITIL books.

don't start with buying the ITIL books

It's a fair point: ITSM consulting is currently overwhelmingly ITIL consulting and yes you need to read the ITIL books to do ITIL consulting.

But not everyone working or even consulting in ITSM is working in ITIL. And that proportion will grow. There are better frameworks to plan your processes around (COBIT for one). ITIL will become a useful supplement for those who don't have a good knowledge of IT operations. You'll refer to bits of it when you need to.

If you are an "ITIL consultant" you need to have read the books, yes. In that sector you'll make enough in half a day to buy the books so why wouldn't you?

The point of this post is to give the alternate perspective that if your interest is in ITSM as an activity as compared to ITIL the branded proprietary body of knowledge, then you can learn all you need to know elsewhere and much more cheaply, and STILL get the ITIL-speak and the occasional in-depth fragment of the ITIL books for much less investment. That applies to many ITSM practitioners.

My advice: don't automatically start with buying the ITIL books. Buy then when you need to or if you make so much money you don't care.

How one can get cheap ITIL training

I've been inspired by your post, and I've written one about how to get ITIL training almost for free (actually, from $17 to $99 it depends on country where you live).

Please look at:

v3 Glossary and acronyms

I thought about that

I thought about that. I suppose it is worth having though i find the definitions in isolation not terribly useful - I guess that is why it is free ;-D

Quite useful

I've found it quite useful, though it would help if the definitions were more definitive.

Perhaps we need an ITIL/ITSM catechism.

Q: What is the right and proper aim of ITSM?
A: The right and proper end of ITSM is.....

We could also have the 39 Articles of the Frustrated Service Manager

Don't forget NGOSS/SID

Let’s not forget NGOSS/SID from the TeleManagement Forum. Any such catechism should begin with a reminder that ITSM does not equal ITPM. Most of the ITSM community is so focused on process improvement and process automation that they have forgotten what ITSM means... Service Management (not Process Management).

The Resource Facing Services that so many in the IT industry eat, breath and sleep, are not the end game (unless you happen to be a pure play service provider). For most organizations to be successful at ITSM, to achieve real Business-IT alignment, to know which ITSM projects are worth winning, and objectively allocate scarce resources, one must understand the linkages between Customer Facing and Resource Facing Services and assess the real business value of those services.

Hence V3's Focus on Service


I agree - the real value in V3 is the major shift to Service or as I like to call it Business Capability thinking - this is seen in the Service Strategy & Service Design books.

This realization by internal IT service provider organizations that they need to act/behave/think as if they are an external SP - winning their corporate business teams business everyday.

Not sure what NGOSS/SID is could you expand?


The following article does an excellent job of framing up NGOSS/SID and how it can be leveraged to define services, and service hierarchies, along the lines of CFSs and RFSs.

This Service Definition activity is the first of four steps in IT Service Value Management (ref:

IT-SVM does a great job of integrating the plethora of management methodologies, standards and best practices referenced by ITIL v3 (including NGOSS/SID) into a repeatable, easy to use, methodology that senior management can leverage for objectively allocating resources.

All I ever comment is...

to refer people to FITS

So why not again now...
It's easy to follow, fairly simple and written straightforwardly. You can download it all as pdfs for £0.

Alex Jones

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