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It was by asking ourselves those questions that we realized the advantages of an online library available by subscription. Personalized Folders – Rather than having thousands of books and videos organized by us in a single technology topic taxonomy, you can now put together your own organization, grouping books in the categories most useful to you. Smart Folders – New books, videos and articles are being added to Safari Books Online all the time. As you can see, many of these features take advantage of the online medium in ways that aren’t possible with standalone ebooks. With this in mind, we reached out to the Pearson Technology Group, our biggest competitor, creating Safari Books Online as a joint venture between the two companies.
While we still compete fiercely with Pearson in acquiring new authors and titles, and in selling those books to the public, we cooperate in coming up with new features that we think will help to make Safari Books Online a better product. It also turns out that while we cooperate on the technology and design of Safari Books Online, the cloud library model provides ample room for competition at the content level. The other key insight that led us to develop Safari was that we realized that for ebooks to succeed, they would need a distribution infrastructure.
But, for the most part, digital publishing and online publishing systems are going to have to re-create the kind of richness of distribution networks that we see in the print world. Most publishers exploring the ebook market think of so called ludic reading, that feeling of getting lost in a good book. I’ve applied this kind of thinking to our publishing strategy, both in print and online.
One more important feature being added to Safari is a new, lighter-weight development model. An improved version of the commenting features in Rough Cuts, Safari Books Online’s early access program for books under development.

The site overall looks cleaner now, quite an improvement – until I actually opened my book for reading. At any rate, the Safari team is scratching their heads about this since during their closed betas, they got nothing but praise — but they are also scrambling to see if they can come up with a solution. However, please be assured that almost all the books are available for free if you know where to look. And if you had UI specialists working on this new version, I would guess those UI specialists don’t actually use Safari Books Online or they would have caught some of these problems that people are pointing out.
I’ve been using SBO for quite a while and find it a very useful resource for technical reference books. Safari Books Online is an online book and video subscription service, launched in partnership with the Pearson Technology Group in 2001. One of the best things about online technical books is the ability to search the full text of a book. You can restrict searches to only the books you’ve chosen, and can search within the results of a saved search. One of the advantages of Safari Books Online as a separate joint venture is that it is a level playing field for all participating publishers.
Our books are used to learn about new technology, to search for task-relevant information, and to a much lesser extent, for entertainment. The Safari team has been working with Eric Ries of the Lean Startup fame to adopt the kind of constant improvement that characterizes the best web applications.
I can only reiterate, however, that in failing to retain a reflowable-text viewing mode, Safari has regressed to pointing a camera at the stage and calling it cinema. I’m really surprised given that all of the top Safari titles (the bestsellers, if you will) were in page fidelity.

I don’t think the Safari Books team has any idea how their users actually use the service. So, people who were hooked to SBO were doing that because a) they wanted to pay for something that was of value and b) reading the HTML version of the book was far more easier than reading the pirated PDF. For example, if I purchase an ebook via Safari, it would be wonderful if it were permanently a part of my Safari library and not count against my book count.
Page Down goes to the next book page, not to the next part of the page that was not visible. A subscription gives 24x7 online access to a massive library of technical books - an iPad app is also available.
Recent releases of O’Reilly ebooks as iPhone applications have even outsold the same books in print. We have also improved our search user interface to allow you to search inside the book or in other books without leaving the page you are reading. This way I could use Safari for books on topics for which I have a transient or evaluative interest and if I decide I really want the book forever, buy the ebook and free up a Safari slot. This has led to some interesting side-effects, in particular, deeper usage of books that are out of print or in limited availability, confirming Chris Anderson’s long tail theory. Safari books is horrible at remember your preferences, so unless it was mission critical to view something in HTML (because of horrible page formatting) the default usually had to do. For most of book publishing and certainly for most of trade book publishing, the people who are going to encounter your product by chance are far greater in number than the people who are going to seek it out.

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