back to article O Rly? O'Reilly exits direct book sales

O'Reilly Media, the preeminent publisher of tech titles for non-dummies, is exiting print distribution. In the kind of prose you can only compose if you've been crafting business prose for decades, the company explains it's a "reinvention" needed because "we're in the midst of a fundamental shift in how people get and use …

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As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

... I'm all for digital content, don't get me wrong, but nothing digital has surpassed dead trees when it comes to research and teaching.

(As a side note: What the fuck does "I bought from their website instead of resellers because I knew what I was getting would be DRM-free." mean in the context of dead tree books? Makes no sense to me.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

Direct book sales should be rephrased as direct sales. They are not selling dead trees or lively electron books anymore. They are subscription only with 3rd parties reselling.

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

"nothing digital has surpassed dead trees.."

Not in schools or academia at least. Which is a great shame. Its crazy that people are required to print and bind their papers in this day and age.

Personally i've not brought a print book in almost 10 years.. these days I use phablet which acts as book reader, email, basic browsing, music and the oh so occasional phone call!

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

"Personally i've not brought a print book in almost 10 years.. these days I use phablet which acts as book reader, email, basic browsing, music and the oh so occasional phone call!"

And, of course, your use case fits all.

Could you please point me to the electronic version of this book which I have to hand and which I bought in print the other day: Wakefield Court Roll 1658-59.

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

I tend to agree: for technical subjects it's difficult to beat paper when you need to browse (flip quickly through different parts of a book) and I have a couple of O'Reillys in my library, including the Python Cookbook, even thought it's available online

However, if you're travelling a lot then e-books are really very practical and with the Kobo Aura One I've finally got a reader that is suitable for technical docs: large screen, waterproof, usable in bright light.

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

Nothing digital surpasses dead trees? Well given that most digital stuff is in fucking PDF or other paper and book shaped form its not surprising. But good web stuff pisses all over paper shaped stuff.

We live in a bizarre world where everyone makes their documentation in railway carriage form and is surprised when it doesnt fit into the matter transporter.

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Pint

Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

Dr Syntax, I have always thought that we shared a worldview.

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

"these days I use phablet which acts as book reader"

When you're coding some low level stuff and your system documentation comes in three huge volumes, there's no amount of electronic gizmos that can top having the book on the desk beside you with a dozen post it notes in the important places.

A few years ago, I'd have paid a company to print my SoC documentation given that PDF was the only option, but since I didn't create it myself, nobody wanted to touch it. :(

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

@Dr Syntax... I think your living in the wrong century... beside, I was not pointing to historical material, but rather modern publications that already exist in or were created in digital formats.

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

@heyrick - Agreed, its not suitable for all purposes and there are some benefits to having a tangible book that you can reference too... but under those circumstances, I use a second screen to read the material on, it perhaps not quite as productive, but the upside is the books cost less, it requires less space (and much more portable) and I can copy and paste example code...

It horses for courses and personal preference ..

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

"I think your living in the wrong century... beside, I was not pointing to historical material, but rather modern publications that already exist in or were created in digital formats."

Date of publication 2015.

Don't get me wrong here, if the translated and edited publication had been in digital format it would actually have been better. It's easier to cut and paste or otherwise process stuff when it's in digital format. Some of the earlier published volumes were scanned and I have them in that format.

The point is that if you require a specific item that's only in printed format then that's what you use. There's no value at all in taking the approach of phablet (or, come to that, print) only.

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

..."there's no amount of electronic gizmos that can top having the book on the desk beside you with a dozen post it notes in the important places."

Exactly - there are times where you can find something in the book by feel - how thick the stack of pages is on each side. I have a number of reference books I can flip to within a page or two of what I want without looking at the TOC/Index just based on feel.

That and it's hard to take notes in the margins on an eReader. If you do manage it they tend to be visible on everything you read after that...

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Coat

Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

@K

these days I use phablet which acts as book reader...

One use case you'll find the phablet inferior to dead trees is if you're in the bog and realize you've run out of toilet paper. In an emergency you can use pages torn from a book. A phablet would not work anywhere near as well.

This is where a Bible (or Kerrang!) finds a practical use. Always keep one in the toilet. They're printed on nice, thin paper that flushes easily.

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Childcatcher

Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

We live in a bizarre world where everyone makes their documentation in railway carriage form and is surprised when it doesnt fit into the matter transporter.

I know the article and above comments mostly refer to IT documentation, but digitization projects that have involved scanning historical texts and making them available online have brought rare texts in reach of many people who would not otherwise have access. There are a number of transcription efforts that are crowd-sourced, allowing said texts to become easily searched. As otherwise noted, it depends on what your particular needs are, but for many if not most in this area digital texts have far outstripped the utility of the physical page.

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Re: As long as they're still publishing dead tree books ...

... until your personal preference is no longer a possibility thanks to the tyranny of the "majority" preference.

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Anonymous Coward

O'Reilly have been publishing some of the best Tech books for years

... unlike the dross from Packt, Wrox, Microsoft Press and the rest.

The only publishers that comes near them are Addison Wesley and Wiley.

[Although I must admit that the recent "Practical Statistics for Data Scientists: 50 Essential Concepts" is quite a bit below O'Reilly's usual standard.]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: O'Reilly have been publishing some of the best Tech books for years

I'm sure, statistically, there has to be a duff one from time to time...

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Re: O'Reilly have been publishing some of the best Tech books for years

[Although I must admit that the recent "Practical Statistics for Data Scientists: 50 Essential Concepts" is quite a bit below O'Reilly's usual standard.]

My view of O'Reilly's usual standard took a big tumble years ago when they spammed me about a book on dealing with spam. It never really recovered.

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As long as they keep the nature/animal sketch cover artwork, I'll be happy with O'Reilly books.

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Anonymous Coward

Their paper books were always good investments for subjects you wished to learn about. Digital versions are better for later reference when you want to search for something half-remembered.

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Probably inevitable...

I've got some of their excellent books I used to learn Perl, sed, awk & vi with back when I started out. However, the web now has some decent resources available for free and sites like Linux Academy bundle up training into videos with VMs available to practice on, so the market for the books is probably shrinking. For many people, that's a good enough resource, others prefer the physical books.

Here's hoping they can continue to create good content and make money from it, however they're going about it.

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Re: Probably inevitable...

However, the web now has some decent resources available for free

I guess searching Stack Overflow is gaining popularity because it's free. But it doesn't half produce some shitty coders compared to a(n e-)book which gives you a thorough overview of a language or whatever.

I swear by O'Reilly's regex pocket book (but I still prefer it to searching on the web...).

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Re: Probably inevitable...

After a reorganization at home thanks to Mrs Rampart, I had to cull a shed load of computing books (charity shop, I feel books are sacred and they are never knowingly destroyed by me). But I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the 3 o'reilly perl books. Despite hardly ever using perl anymore. I'm an unemotional guy too, as the aforementioned and lucky Mrs Rampart would testify. Superb books.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probably inevitable...

"But I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the 3 o'reilly perl books."

Many years ago I bought several O'Reilly books on subjects that looked pertinent to future developments - but the need to use them never arose.

Recently I needed to learn enough Perl to provide a web server function. Sure enough the dusty book was still on the shelf. However online searches also helped me with solutions to requirements like "file semaphore in Perl". Both book and online fora were a useful combination.

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Very Disappointed

I have bought ebooks directly from O’Reilly for many years. I even bought my SitePoint and Wrox books from O’Reilly because they’re better organised and have had a better approach to customer service.

I don’t like subscription services as a matter of principle, and I don’t like buying from Amazon because of how they have stuffed up the whole ebook thing.

I’m particularly cheesed off that this is the first I have heard of it.

Not sure where to go from here. Maybe re-read the Disc World series.

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Send an email to Tim O'Reilly to complain

His email address is up there at the O'Reilly web site: tim@oreilly.com

I assume that a flunky actually reads the emails, but if enough people email to complain, the flunky will surely tell Tim.

Remember, polite emails will work better than ranty ones. But if you tell Tim you're not signing up the the $400/year Safari subscription, and that from today, you'll buy Apress or Manning e-books instead, because they still sell non-DRM e-books, that's going to get smeone's attention too.

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Re: Send an email to Tim O'Reilly to complain

They've not stopped making paper books, just handling the physical distribution of them. I will continue to order the ones I want from my local bookshop.

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Re: Send an email to Tim O'Reilly to complain

Thanks, done. Selling tech books without PDF versions should be forbidden.

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Anonymous Coward

:(

"The post is required, and must contain letters."

letters.

Still :( though

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Impeccable, best of breed

O'Reilly

JavaScript – The Definitive Guide

3rd Edition, 1998

by David Flanagan

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Re: Impeccable, best of breed

Its a pity microsoft can't keep up with the ecmascript specification!

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bookcase in the basement

I have a bookcase in the basement full of O'Reilly. Perhaps the used dead tree business will become profitable. I will consult the underware Gnomes.

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Anonymous Coward

"I have a bookcase in the basement full of O'Reilly."

Sensible - avoids the floor bending under the load.

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Bah!

Safari is a pay-as-you-go rental service thtavrequires a persistent internet connection.

I have all the CD Bookshelves but those were knobbled by being done as non-pdfs, meaning that once the Java part was broken by upgrades the search engine was worthless. I might go on about the worth of a search engine that couldn't cope with non-alphanumerics in a product concerned with perl, pr php, or apache or ... well, you get it.

O'Reilly could be delightfully thick sometimes, as could some of their authors and editors.

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So long as the books stay, I'm OK

Looks like you can still buy the physical books, just not from O'Reilly's website. OK, I'm cool with that. But you'll have to prise the physical books of the future out of my cold, dead hands.

Frankly the either/or choice is a false one, since people will grab whatever resources in whatever form they need to solve their questions.

Still, my personal preference for surveying a subject, pulling the big picture together and then getting into the details, is paper. I find I remember much more. There was a study published in the ACM that appears to agree with me, but as usual with academics looking for funding, they conclude that "more studies are needed"...[http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=2858036.2858550]

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Anonymous Coward

BIG mistake

I've always preferred buying directly from O'Reilly to getting tech books from Amazon, as O'Reilly always provided PDF versions free of charge.

Tech books, especially those on programming with tons on code snippets, are impossible to read on Kindle. Been there, done that. Sorry O'Reilly, but you won't make a single buck on me if I don't get a PDF with my purchase.

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Unhappy

Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Say it isn't so?!??

D:

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Orv
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But now who will get the joke when I wear my vintage Distributing Clue To Users* parody tee shirt?!?

* Includes board with nail in it.

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Paper books are almost unaffected - lack of pdf chokes me off

I know, I know, who cares about Linux users but my multi-screen pc runs Linux on which I do some development. I have been a paper and PDF customer of O'Reilly for some years, I can open two copies of the same book at different pages for referencing. I can cut and paste example code between the book and editor or indeed download the examples from O'Reilly. Do I want some other "DRM safe" on my desk with a crappy screen? No thanks.

And no, I don't pass on the PDF copies to anywhere or anyone, buy one yourself if you want it - oh wait, you can't do that any more can you?

It was a great service.Try searching for Linux support for the Safari loanshop (not that I am interested in a subscription service anyhow)

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