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Safari Books Online

Like most nerds, I am learning new technologies (and brushing up on old ones) all the time. It’s fun, actually. The challenge is finding that one cogent explanation of a difficult concept that makes the light bulb go on. There’s a notion that one can learn anything just by Googling it, and I Google like a madman, but I’ve always preferred those old-fashioned repositories of knowledge called “books.” (Remember them?) Books pack a lot of solid information in one place.

Trouble is, even the largest chains have a limited selection of technology books, and I like to compare titles before spending my money. It would be great if there were a way to browse all the books available on a topic.

Enter Safari Books Online. SBO has been around for a while, but for some reason I ignored it, because I thought it was an O’Reilly-only thing, since they promote it heavily on their site. As much as I love O’Reilly, the plan wasn’t compelling enough. A little investigation, however, revealed that SBO offers books from over 30 publishers, including Peachpit, New Riders, and, of course, O’Reilly.

As soon as I found that out, I signed up for the cheapest plan, which gives me online access to five books at a time, which I can swap for others in as little as 30 days. That’s 60 books a year. Besides full access to all those books, the entire library is always searchable and the search results contain enough of a excerpt that it’s easy to determine if the book is worth “getting.”

I feel like the proverbial kid in the candy store which led me to grab some books I wouldn’t normally have read, so I’ve been having a little fun this week with a new project. More on that soon.


What a neat service. I'd love to hear your follow-up on this, whether you were able to accurately make comparisons and ultimately purchase the right book for your needs. This would be interesting to see whether other genre publishers would follow suit.

i signed up for Safari a while it's pretty nice, especally if you have a print to pdf print driver *wink wink nudge nudge*

I use it to reference Cisco Press books i may only been a chapter or two out of.

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