Going on Safari (Ultimate E-book Edition)
January 12, 2008 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Is O'Reilly's Safari bookshelf a good substitute for printed computer books? As the walls of shelves in my office close around me, I need to either get rid of a lot of my old books, or stop buying new ones. I like to print things and annotate them, and it looks like O'Reilly doesn't let one print much without additional charges.
posted by lukemeister to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Short answer: no.

Long answer:

I used Safari for a while. I found that it kept me from buying books to help me for small, single-tech projects. But didn't help me get rid of pocket references or real substantial programming books.

The limiting factor here is the size of your "bookshelf" on Safari and the cooling off period between bookshelf swaps. I think I could have ten books checked out at any given time. And I had to keep any given book checked out at least three days. A widely-scoped project with several different new technologies required that I cram on one for a couple days, swap out books, and then do the same again. My other option was to swap out my reference books... which just meant I had to go buy them.

So, I would up buying/acquiring lots of books nonetheless.
posted by Netzapper at 11:58 AM on January 12, 2008


These days it's $20/month for the 10-book shelf and $40/month for the unlimited. I was thinking of trying the unlimited for the reasons you cited.
posted by lukemeister at 12:36 PM on January 12, 2008

There's nothing quite like having a book in your hand, but realistically, tech books are expensive and get old fast.

I have used Safari Bookshelf - fortunately my university has an account and a seemingly unlimited bookshelf. It's very handy for my job.

If there's something you can see you're going to use a lot, buy it. Otherwise, if you don't mind reading a book on a screen, you'll find the Safari bookshelf very handy.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 12:39 PM on January 12, 2008

I was going to write the same as Kioki-Silver (even down to the university account!). It's /ok/ if you want to read through something. If you're going to be jumping back and forwards to check things all the time it fails.
To answer the question: no, it's a really bad substitute. It does, however, give you access to a massive field of information without having to buy a second house for all your books. You could probably strip your real life bookshelf down to just the things you need to reference frequently without suffering too much.
posted by muteh at 1:05 PM on January 12, 2008

San Francisco's library gives you access to the Safari bookshelf with your library card number as a login.

I've been also using Manning and other publishers who publish PDF versions of their books. I've travelled too many miles with heavy tech books I only need a chapter out of and don't always have access to the web.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:06 PM on January 12, 2008


Thanks for your help. My local library doesn't subscribe to Safari, and I don't have a university affiliation. I wonder if there's an out-of-town library that I could join. I think some city libraries allow that for a fee.
posted by lukemeister at 3:30 PM on January 12, 2008

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