O’Reilly wants to help with your computer book clutter

cover-scalaAs one of the programmers here at Unclutterer, I spend quite a bit of time educating myself on new technologies. My bookshelf is pretty crowded, mostly with books that I’ve already read, and now only need to refer to once in awhile.

I’ve been looking for a good way to unclutter my programming bookshelf, so I was excited to find out that O’Reilly, one of the foremost publishers of technology books, is currently running a promotion to allow owners of paper versions of their books to buy ebook versions at a substantial discount of only $4.99 per book.

While many people prefer paper versions of books for readability, ebook versions have a few notable advantages that make them particularly useful when it comes to technology books.

  • Tech books are typically big and take up a lot of shelf space. Ebook versions are quite a bit smaller, and take up approximately zero shelf space.
  • Code samples cannot be cut and pasted from paper books. Some books include an additional DVD, or link to a website, that contains sample code. This is unnecessary with an ebook, and can save a lot of time when trying to learn new concepts quickly.
  • Ebook text can be searched much more easily than paper text. Especially across multiple books at once.
  • Ebooks make it possible to take your bookshelf with you on the road, and nobody wants to be anchored to an office just because that’s where his books are.

To take advantage of this offer:

  • Visit oreilly.com and log in to your account, or create a new one.
  • Register each book you own using its 13 digit ISBN number.
  • Find one of your registered books in the O’Reilly store and add the ebook version to your shopping cart.
  • Enter the discount code 499UP during checkout.

The promotion runs through the month of October.

17 Comments for “O’Reilly wants to help with your computer book clutter”

  1. posted by Anita on

    This is a great idea.

    Question: anything preventing you from looking up the ISBN of any O’Reilly book (on isbndb.com or Amazon.com or wherever) and using this code on books you don’t actually own?

    Not that I’m promoting such activity, of course… :P

  2. Avatar of PJ Doland

    posted by PJ Doland on

    Nothing would prevent you from doing that.

    But I would tend to think that if there’s too much abuse, we won’t see more promotions like this in the future.

  3. posted by L. on

    I am not sure how this issue will vary among different ebook formats, but I recently chose to purchase a paper version of a book in O’Reilly’s Missing Manual series *instead* of a Kindle version because the Kindle version was very problematic. The Kindle sample I downloaded was very difficult to navigate, because the ebook format doesn’t take well to the text boxes, images, and notes seen throughout most computer manuals. And, sadly, there were even missing chunks of text in a few places, which of course made the information even more difficult to absorb. Finally, I find that I need to flip back and forth within this sort of manual a lot, and I can’t navigate nearly as speedily within the Kindle. I have also had similar problems with a Kindle-based computer manual from a different vendor.

    Having to make this choice bummed me out, because computer manuals are just the sort of clutter I was hoping to cut down on when I purchased the Kindle. When buying new, the Kindle books are also cheaper. But in this case dead trees were still the better choice.

    (Don’t get me wrong: I love the Kindle and it’s worth every penny I paid for it. I use it for a lot of other stuff. Just not computer books.)

  4. posted by Loren on

    A friend of mine pays a fee and can access anything in the Safari library online.
    I don’t know the price he pays exactly but he has an unlimited access to all of the books online. There is limited downloading, but if you can share the account and split the price this is a good option.
    (Especially if you can share a subscription amongst the members of a department.)

  5. posted by Krisha on

    someone must have read my mind! just a few days ago, i was talking to a friend about wanting to be able to acquire ebooks at a discounted price after i’d already purchased the hard copy. this will allow me to free up valuable bookshelf space AND pass along books to others that might not be able to shell out the cash for them right away.

  6. Avatar of PJ Doland

    posted by PJ Doland on

    @L. -

    Many (and perhaps most?) of the books are available in a bundle that includes three formats (epub, mobi, and pdf).

    The PDF ones are exactly like the print editions, only searchable and with a well organized table of contents you can use to quickly navigate the document. I keep these versions on my laptop for quick reference.

  7. posted by Daniel Howard on

    I thought half the point of the Kindle is that you can’t cut-and-paste text between it and your computer, thereby preserving the publishers’ precious copy rights at your expense.

    Anyway, even if you could technically cut and paste from your eBook, my hunch is that visiting the web site to download the sample code would be quicker.

  8. Avatar of PJ Doland

    posted by PJ Doland on

    @Daniel Howard-

    O’Reilly’s three ebook formats are DRM-free.

  9. posted by Trevor Bramble on

    I was thrilled to get that announcement too!

    I feel I should also point out that the Pragmatic guys http://pragprog.com/ have been doing this for awhile too, though now with such steep pricing (ex: Programming Ruby is offered to me for $10.01 after a $14.99 discount) and their ongoing support of digital releases is fantastic. I can see when any of my purchased books have an updated release and retrieve them.

    They do a great job and I’ve been happy to see their innovations spreading to O’Reilly and elsewhere.

    On the flipside, I was deeply disappointed to discover that my ebook purchase from Apress came with a password. I won’t be buying from them again.

  10. posted by min hus on

    You may want to check and see what your library offers as well, especially academic libraries. In Ohio, almost every college and university provides access to Safari Tech Books to their faculty, staff and students, so access is free to me because they’re already subscribing.

  11. posted by Daphne on

    Just want to point out, politely, to Daniel Howard, that the copyright is held by the AUTHOR not the publisher. Most writers make very little money on books so it *is* important to protect their copyright. After all, without the writers, we’d have no books at all!

  12. posted by Charlotte K on

    If you are affiliated with an academic institution check your library first. Many univ. libraries offer Safari books. Don’t pay for them if you are entitled to use them from a library. I have told our Univ IT staff where I work (in a library) many times that they don’t have to buy these. They don’t have a clue! Always check your libraries (public or otherwise) first!

  13. posted by Daily Review #8 | The Queue Blog on

    [...] Unclutterer posted a tip on $4.99 versions of O’Reilly ebooks if you own the paper version. [...]

  14. posted by Sean on

    Many publishers, including Sybex and even Microsoft Press, include CDs with their books that include ebook or PDF versions of the book as well as bonus content like sample scripts. With many of O’Reilly’s titles retailing for $50 or more, charging another $5.00 for the ebook is more exasperating than exciting.

  15. posted by Don on

    My professional membership with the ACM provides me with Safari, albeit not one that has -every- book available in the per-month subscription version of Safari. I’ve yet to figure out what the deciding factor is, but the majority of books are in there. At $99 a year it’s not a bad alternative.

    Min hus is dead-on with regards to the academic options. If I connect to Safari from my work computer (I’m on a local campus) it automatically detects, based on my IP, that I’m under the site membership.

  16. posted by Rose on

    This is in response to Loren’s post on 10/20/09.
    The economy has certainly put a crunch on our pocket books and people are trying to figure out creative ways to save money while maintaining access to resources like Safari Books Online. Unfortunately, pricing for the Safari Books Online library is structured on a per user basis and the user agreement strictly prohibits sharing accounts. Having said that, I’m certain that there is a subscription model that fits most budgets. And, there is no time commitment so you can cancel your individual subscription without penalty. In addition to individual subscriptions, Safari Books Online also offers subscriptions for enterprises and small workgroups. Organizations are typically open to purchasing Safari Books Online subscriptions for its employee base because it, among other things, reduces the costs associated with training and helps reduce errors and speed up research times. Sorry to ramble on – I just love Safari. For less than the cost of one book ($22.99 or $42.99 depending on the subscription level), you can have access to not just one book, but rather you can have access to thousands of books, videos and more from leading publishers like O’Reilly Media. You can also sign up for a free 10-day trial. You will need to enter your credit card information but your card won’t be charged unless you decide to continue your subscription. You will need to cancel before your 10-day trial is up though if you don’t want to continue. http://my.safaribooksonline.com/trial

  17. posted by Rose on

    This is in response to the post by min hus on 10/20/2009. If you are a library patron or a student, gaining access to Safari Books Online via your local library, college or university is a good way to go. Just keep in mind that most public and academic libraries only offer a small sampling of the thousands of books, videos and personalized features available from Safari Books Online. While this access to Safari Books Online provides a taste of what Safari Books Online is all about, professionals and serious enthusiasts should check out the complete Safari Books Online service and experience. For those of you who want to access Safari Books Online’s entire collection (more content), take a deep dive into more sophisticated technologies, and experience the rich suite of personalized features, we invite you to visit my.safaribooksonline.com/trial for a free trial.

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