in reply to (OT) I prefer to do my learning with: dead trees or flying electrons?
So what I come here to ask, oh learnÚd monks, is if I am completely nuts. Are paper and ink books an irreplaceable resource in the journey to enlightenment that is Perl?
Absolutely not. The only requirement for a person to learn anything is that they're willing to make a few million mistakes. You could learn Perl with just perl, and you could eventually know it well. You could learn Perl just by using CPAN, and you could eventually know it well. It's just less likely, because there's a much steeper learning curve there.
The difference between paper and electronic documents is irrelevant, essentially just a question of which you prefer. Those who truly hate paper will purchase the Bookshelf, sell their physical copy of the Nutshell that came with it, and trot along on their merry way. Those who truly hate reading on a screen can sit and print the entirety of the man pages.
The real thing about the Camel is that it was canonical for the old guard, it became canonical for the new guard, and that it continues to be both an excellent reference material as well as an entertaining read. Not an easy thing, which you know from those other printed reference materials.
I wouldn't worry about it, if I were you. If it really bothers you, buy the Bookshelf, and read the book in your preferred environment.
(And send me your copy of the Nutshell if you do...! I have a friend who learns from reference materials and needs a copy... ;) )
You are what you think.