# Friday, February 26, 2010
« Getting to know Agile a little more. | Main | Learning ASP.Net MVC »

I was not asked nor am I being paid for this post.  I just want to let other’s know about a service that I have found to be incredibly valuable to improving my code craft.

I knew about Safari Books Online for a couple of years before I decided to give it a shot.  I had trepidation at first due to the price point and wasn’t sure if I would really use it.  I averaged a few books a year so it didn’t seem worth it.  Nine months have passed since I took it for a spin and I am smitten with Safari and here’s why.

  1. Thousands of Books at your fingertips

Nearly 11,000 as of this writing.  The publisher list is large and I have only a couple of a cases where a book I wanted was not in the library.  They are adding titles every week it seems like.  For the most part, I feel like a kid in a candy store seeing all the books that are available.  I have 47 books in my bookshelf at this time and have accessed many more.

  1. Features, features, features

I have a habit of marking up, highlighting and dog earring the books I read.  While this is great it’s still not the easiest to find that note or dog ear I made that had that particular topic I wanted to re-read or apply.  Enter the world of Safari Books Online.  I can add bookmarks and notes to my books and easily access them.  I can email and even download books/chapters if I want/need to.  The books have hyperlinked references & related content.  The searching ability offers a great way to find topics of particular interest in different books if you are wanting to learn/read on a particular topic rather than read an entire book.

  1. Accessibility

At first I had a hard time reading a book electronically.  It felt awkward and I wanted the physical book.  That didn’t take long to get over.  The ability to pick up where I left off on a book anywhere I have access to the internet is unbeatable.  I have used Safari at home, at the office and recently Safari added mobile devices to the list.  I experimented with the mobile device for my BlackBerry and found it to be pleasing.  Naturally, a larger media device would be preferable but if you don’t have one the small BlackBerry screen and Safari’s layout make it very readable.

  1. No Worries = More Reading = More Learning

Should I buy this?  I fought this question over and over again before Safari.  Now my battle is which book will I read next.  In the nine months or so of owning Safari I have read through six books and will finish my seventh soon.  I figure I will get another three in before the year is over.  That’s 10 books from cover to cover in a year. That doesn’t include the others I have browsed through, read a chapter here, looked at a code sample there.  I would easily say this is the most I have read in a year.  All thanks to the simple fact that I don’t have to shell out money every time I think I want to read a book.  There’s even been a couple of books on Safari that I started to read and then dropped after realizing I didn’t care for them.  Had I purchased the book outright I would have been disappointed.  Instead I feel liberated and empowered.

  1. Cost

Safari Offers two versions of it’s service for individuals.  The 10-slot bookshelf costs just over $250 a year and the unlimited access version weighs in at just under $475 as of this writing.  If you are like me the unlimited access version starts to feel a little costly but that’s the version I bought and have found it to be well worth to cost.

I have 47 books in my bookshelf currently.  If I bought each one at an average of $25 I would have shelled out nearly $1,200.  Let’s be honest though, I would not have bought all those books.  Instead let’s just say that I would have bought 10 of them since that’s what I believe I will have read completely through using Safari in a year.  I still would spend $250.  At the least, I have equaled the value of the 10-slot bookshelf.  It may be hard to find technology books for $25 average unless you buy used as much as possible.  If the average book cost $40 we are fast approaching the value of the unlimited bookshelf and don’t forget the shipping costs.

Now throw in the added features you get with Safari and I thinks it’s clear that Safari is a great tool well worth the price for any developer.

I have one nagging thought about Safari but it has nothing to do with it’s service.  I have no idea how author’s are compensated for book usage.  I hope it’s a good deal for them but I imagine it’s still not as good as buying a book outright.  Still, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have bought the book in the first place so perhaps Safari is helping to increase their revenue. :-)

Happy coding, err… reading!

Please login with either your OpenID above, or your details below.
(will show your gravatar icon)
Home page

Comment (Some html is allowed: b, blockquote@cite, em, i, strike) where the @ means "attribute." For example, you can use <a href="" title=""> or <blockquote cite="Scott">.  

[Captcha]Enter the code shown (prevents robots):

Live Comment Preview