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What's up at O'Reilly?

I am a subscriber to O'Reilly's online reference library http://safari.oreilly.com/ . This helps me keep up-to-date on tech at a reasonable price.
However.
Does anyone know what is up whith this service? In the past books were added to the library at a steady pace of around 60-80 volumes per month (full figures below). Last month there where only six added, and now in March alredy 9 days into the month there is just one book added.
Anyone heard a rumour?
Are there alternatives you would recommend?

Books added per month:

jan 03    84
feb 03    70
mar 03    82
apr 03    70
may 03    76
jun 03    64
jul 03    88
aug 03    61
sep 03    59
oct 03    74
nov 03    57
dec 03    60
jan 03    61
feb 04    6
mar 04    1

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Did they spend the past year backfilling the library, and now it's just new publications?

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I'm a bit confused.  It seems that the Safari service allows you to view books online and download chapters.  At any time you can only have up to 10/20/30 books in your library depending on the library size.  Could it just be that your library is full?  It definately appears that you don't receive printed copies of the matterial, as the site indicates that you receive between a 30% and 35% discount when purchasing hard copies of the books.

Elephant
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Nope,

As far as I can tell they did most 'backfilling' in 2002. Over the whole 2003 period books were pretty recent.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Elephant,

the numbers are for the whole library, not my personal bookshelve (I have always been a 10 slot subscriber).
Most of the older books (>18 months) that interest me I can pick up for about 5$ apiece in the sales, and then I get a nice fresh paper copy I can read everywhere and anytime I like.

Safari gives me the ability to read (online only) and search good writings on the latest tech. The price is very reasonable, 14.99$/month for about 10 books, but only if they keep the collection current.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Thanks for the clarification.

Elephant
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

At 9:00 am Eastern, why don't you try giving them a call...

800-775-7330

I think you are being generous with your numbers too!  They have added two books published this year recently (Squid and Oracle Essentials) yet they have published 18+ books in February and March.

Elephant
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Why are you even counting? Did you finish reading them all???

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Elephant, we must be looking at different lists.
On the site, select "view all books" from the left sidebar menu and then click the down arrow on the "Date added to Safari" colum. This sorts the library by date added to Safari in descending order.

The one and only book added in march I see is:
- Snort 2.0 Intrusion Detectionbook

For februari the list is:
- Windows XP Pro: The Missing Manual
- Oracle Essentials: Oracle Database 10g, 3rd Edition
- Squid: The Definitive Guide
- Oracle® PL/SQL™ by Example, Third Edition
- Malware: Fighting Malicious Code
- Enterprise Java™ Programming with IBM® WebSphere®, Second Edition

I can not call 0800 numbers from Europe. Even so, if they were going down, would they tell me about it?

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Li-Fan Chen,

no I did not read them all and neither am I planning too. However, as I stated before the interesting window for this service for me at this price is only for books more recent than about 16 Months. Books older than that I can pick up very cheap. Also, I am not interested in every last book, maybe just about 1 in 20. The 50-80 releases a month provided enough volume so that there where always interesting new picks. If we are talking dramatically less volume, and about the same targetting, this means I can look forward to about 1 interesting new title every 3 months.
That way I'm better of spending my money at Amazon.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Ah,

I meant that that of those books added in February and March to the list, only two of them have publication dates in 2004.  The others are backfill from 2003.

The other side of the coin, is while OReilly has published 18+ books for the months of February and March, only 2 of them has found its way into the Safari library.

And the phone number for outside North America is:

707-829-2819

If they were going down, I doubt they'd tell you, but if no one can give you a good reason as to why there are almost no books being offered, it might be a pretty good hint.

Elephant
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I still don't understand why O'Reilly doesn't open source their books -- why can't I download the Perl CD Bookshelf for free? Hasn't O'Reilly been a big promoter of open source? They can make their money on supporting the books, and the books can be refined by the input of the community.

.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

O'Reilly has made several of their books available for free:

http://www.oreilly.com/openbook/

Anthony Rubin
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Dot,

you are completely missing the point (now that is ironic, isn't it?). Open Source doesn't say anyhting about publishers having to work for free. Au contraire. they want the publishers, writers, consultants and helpdesks to get ALL the money. It is just the developers that should work for free.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

You think you're joking, dot, but there are a number of O'Reilly books whose text is released free on the net.  It shouldn't be hard to find the Ask Tim column where he talks about sales.

Also, most (all?) of the books I plan to buy in the medium term, are right now available to the public as they're written, to gain feedback in precisely an "opensource" way.  Well, that and reprints of publicly available works.  People here are aware of McConnell's book for one...  I believe Joel has a book that's readable for free too?

Tayssir John Gabbour
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"You think you're joking, dot, but there are a number of O'Reilly books whose text is released free on the net."

Oh, I'm fully aware that a tiny subset of O'Reilly books are available for free. If that's the standard, though, then I suppose Microsoft is an open source company (given that you can get sample source code from them. Hell, you can even get the source to CE).

O'Reilly entirely depends upon artificially limited distribution, and IP laws, to support their business model. I recently had need for some Perl documentation, and knowing that O'Reilly has a fully HTML edition of their various Perl books I went look -- imagine my surprize to find that you have to pay $100 US to get a CD with some HTML files...from a company that is often a mouthpiece of open source.

.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"Books older than that I can pick up very cheap."

Yes, but:

* you don't have access to them anywhere you have a web browser
* you have to wait for shipping

Joe
http://www.joegrossberg.com

Joe Grossberg
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Anthony & Tayssir,

I am sorry but pointing to http://www.oreilly.com/openbook/  to support a 'free' positon of O'Reilly isn't very convincing.
In fact, in this track it would be more honest to designate Microsoft a 'free' software publisher since there is not only http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx?displaylang=en with masses of 'free' stuff, but also 'free' public beta programs as well.

Let's be reasonable. O'Reilly doesn't even allow me to read the books in my Safari subscription from my browser cache when I am in offline mode, not even during the time that the book is on my bookshelve.
I have no problem with that. Sure, I'd love it if it were allowed, but as it is, that is not the deal they offer. I do not think they are "evil" for doing this are that there is a "moral obligation" on them to offer me this in the name of "freedom".

But do I think their stands wrt FOSS is conviniently self serving? Yes, I do.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

As far as finding out what the deal with Safari is, you can always submit a question to the 'Ask Tim' column at http://www.oreilly.com/ask_tim/asktim_form.html.

A question on making O'Reilly books open source has already been asked: http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/1998/orabooks_os.html. The answer addresses what has been discussed here.

Semi-Anonymous Coward
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Yup.  O'Reilly's base business model seems to be about promoting certain "Opensource" communities in order to grow the market for docs.  I think that's what happened with Perl, but I'm fuzzy on this.

This is why the Free Sofware/Opensource distinction is useful.  Using gratis content as an investment in this manner is a fine Opensource position.  But not a Free Software position, which is about ensuring the empowerment of users.

Gnu's stance on O'Reilly and Perl in particular: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-doc.html

O'Reilly's position on Free books: http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/2002/osbooks_0302.html

Tayssir John Gabbour
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

D'oh! Actual working links are:

http://www.oreilly.com/ask_tim/asktim_form.html

http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/1998/orabooks_os.html

Semi-Anonymous Coward
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Thanks for the link. Tim O'Reilly's position as stated there is fully reasonable. 

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I posted the URL to point out that O'Reilly has some books available for free online.  I was not trying to support any position that anyone on this forum believes they should have.

Believe it or not some of us don't feel everything should be free, but we still use free software.  Even though O'Reilly may support the community to sell more books, what is wrong with that?  The free software community benefits and... well I can't see any downside.

Anthony Rubin
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Mr. O'Reilly's position is very solid and pragmatic. I think most of us agree that Stallman is pretty far out there in his idealistic, communist world.

Having said that, I think Tim is being a bit disingenuous in his differentiation of open source programmers and book authors -- most open source authors aren't scratching their own itch (or if they are the part of the project that was necessary to fulfill their own need was a tiny, trivial iota of the whole), and the _overwhelming_ majority of OSS consumers contribute absolutely nothing and instead merely leech.

Instead most open source programmers submit considerabe time and talents to open source because

a) They believe (or have been misled) in the cause
b) It's a social grouping
c) Fame -- it's fleeting, but most open source authors think they'll get fame and recognition

If you believe in a-c as a credible alternative to professional software, then I could equally apply the same logic to books.

I think a more valid explanation, and I use this when I recommend open source software solutions to clients and peers when called on it, is something along the lines of "I don't believe in the philisophical foundations or economic impact of open source, but damnit someone went through the effort and released a lot of powerful software, so it only makes sense to leverage it where appropriate.". I, like Tim O'Reilly, will happily leech upon the efforts of others where it is self serving to do so.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Stallman has more in common with Puritans and Shakers than he has with Communists, he's interested in the Common Weal, rather than Common Property, and in helping his 'neighbour' rather than seeing them as an equal in all things.

If he'd mix that with some good Quaker commercial realism I'd be a lot happier, but then wishing people were different is a fool's game.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

While O'Reilly doesn't make a lot of books available for free, they do publish a lot of free articles on the O'Reilly Network web site. They probably provide more free technical info to the community than any of the other book publishers in the industry.

Beth
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

For that matter, when I was going on travel (and away from net access) I tried to buy an O'Reilly ebook.  No can do, I was told.  Man, even Cisco Press puts PDFs of their books in their books!  I alerady had the print version, I just didn't want to haul it with me when I already had a laptop and palmtop.  Safari is subscription-based, and only works with net access.

I wish they'd reconsider; I've got some more travel coming up.

Rich
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I agree with Rich, and it was the first thing that struck me - can't download for reading as and where I want means no sale.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Grrrr. Now they are having server trouble: "Service Unavailable".

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

FWIW, the site lists a new feature: "Download chapters for viewing offline."  Haven't tried it...

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, March 11, 2004

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