Evenness, Coverage, Timeliness
Clues to the Book's Usefulness
Look for the date the book was published. Is it current enough for your needs? Books can take years to write and to be published. Some topics, such as science, medicine, or technology, change quickly. If you need very current information, a book might not be the right type of source for you.
Browse the Table of Contents to see what the book covers. Look up one or two of your keywords in the Index in the back of the book to see if they're there. Is the entire book devoted to your topic? Is there a whole chapter? Or just a paragraph or two?
Based on other readings you may have done, does the information appear accurate?
Evenness, or evidence of bias, may be the most difficult aspect to detect. You may need to rely on a general, overall impression of the author's intent only after examining other sources on the same topic.