[Kc] Book Review: Safari Bookshelf
garrett at scriptpro.com
Thu Jul 10 17:02:51 CDT 2003
Normally I try to review books. Today however, I'm going to review an online
book service. O'Reilly's Safari Bookshelf, is an book service offering
online technical books published by: O'Reilly, Addison Wesley, New Riders,
Microsoft Press, Prentice Hall, Cisco Press, Sun Microsystems, Peachpit
Press, Que, Sams, Adobe Press, Alpha, and Macromedia Press.
The current offering includes over 1,300 books with more being added daily.
The way it works is that for various monthly or yearly subscription levels,
the subscriber receives from 5-30 "slots" for fees ranging from roughly
$10-30 per month. Some books take more than 1 slot, but the vast majority do
not. As you search the listings and find books of interest, you can add them
to your personal bookshelf and peruse them at your pleasure. The catch is
that once added, you must wait a month before you are allowed to remove it.
Safari offers advanced search capabilities for searching for a specific book
or subject. And you can do full text searching on the contents of a book
itself. There are also facilities for keeping bookmarks and notes associated
with specific sections of books. You can even make your notes available to
associates or the public.
The user interface of the service is fairly flexible and intuitive. My
favorite is the "hide" tab that clears off most of the visible screen space
to let you get down to some serious reading. I also have found to my
surprise, that I may actually read some texts faster on monitor than in
hand. And while I must admit there is still something to pulling a text down
off the shelf and flipping through the pages, it is certainly nice when I
don't have to lug ten pounds of paper back and forth from the office when
I'm reading up on a particular subject or technology.
The service has a fine balance with regards to the publishers' commercial
interests. In that, if you really do like a text and keep going back to it,
there's an obvious incentive to go ahead and buy it in hard copy so you can
free up that monthly slot. And as you might expect, Safari makes the links
available to encourage you to do just that.
I'm seriously considering trying to convince management within my company to
sponsor a corporate account. IS and Software departments routinely shell out
for subscriptions to Microsoft's MSDN and similar offerings. I can't see why
instant access to quality technical book from Addison Wesley, Microsoft
Press, Cisco, and O'Reilly would be any less valuable.
IS Development Specialist
ScriptPro Direct: 913.403.5261
5828 Reeds Road Main: 913.384.1008
Mission, KS 66202 Fax: 913.384.2180
www.scriptpro.com garrett at scriptpro dot com
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