Before we begin, you may want to check out the other two articles I wrote regarding Safari Books Online. The first, a general overview, can be found here. The second, a tutorial on how to use the product, is located here.
Additionally, in this article I will be using the trial version of Safari Books Online. If you care to follow along – or would like to try the product yourself – you can sign up here. They are currently offering a special deal exclusively for Developer Shed readers. Take advantage of this 10 day free trial and save 30% for the next six months.
All told, Safari Books Online offers an unprecedented 17,000+ pieces of content, including a large array of books and training videos - in fact, 85% of all technology books on the market today can be found in the library (for a fraction of the cost). In addition, they also feature a host of books not found in your traditional brick-and-mortar stores, such as Barnes&Nobles and Books-A-Million.
Covering the entire list of books is, of course, beyond the scope of this article; even an exhaustive list of the publishers you can find on Safari Books Online would be too long. In total, there are about fifty publishers (http://safaribooksonline.com/Corporate/Content/Publishers.php). For the sake of brevity, I'll be highlighting a few of the biggest and most well-known.
These fifty publishers, in turn, publish books in ten base categories, who feature over 1200 sub-categories – you can find a full list here:
Maybe I am a little biased here (my first book was published by Wrox), but to me, the Wrox Imprint is one of the best book publishers on the market. Their tag line: “Programming books by programmers”, couldn't be more accurate. Having been through the process of writing a book for the company and undergoing its editorial process, I can say first hand that they truly love their products and have a passion for the developer market.
Falling under the umbrella of John Wiley and Sons (another publisher in the publishing list, known for its best-selling Dummies books), Wrox has been around for a long time and features books that cover the spectrum of virtually all programming languages and technologies.
These titles work for three tiers of Developers: Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced.
All told, at the time of this article, 218 Wrox books (including mine!) appear in Safari Online, with a promise of more titles to come.
Some Wrox titles you can find include:
When you think technical book, most likely you think O'Reilly. Well known for its books, the company also hosts several well-attended conferences for the tech-savvy each year. Even if you don't know the company by name, you no doubt have read one of their titles - they are those books you see in the store with the animals gracing their cover. If you go to the company's website, you'll know it as the one with the tarsier (Google it) with the blinking eyes.
As an aside, the company apparently chose the quirky animal for a mascot because it "looked like somebody who had been a text editor for too long." That explains the reflection in my mirror.
From a book perspective, the company has released some of the staples in the industry, particularly in the field of Perl, Python, and PHP. At the time of this writing, there are about 1525 O'Reilly books in the Safari Library, all of them worth a glance.
As a side note, O’Reilly is one of the parent publishers for Safari Books Online. Because of this, O’Reilly titles are exclusive to the Safari Books Online library – you won’t find digital versions available anywhere else – yet another reason this service is great.
If you want to preview any books from this publisher, I would recommend checking out these:
I would be remiss if I did not mention Pearson Publishing. Another giant in the tech book industry, they are also part of the joint venture (alongside the aforementioned O’Reilly) that created Safari Books Online.
Pearson is known for educational books and really take an academic approach to their titles, setting them apart from the competition. Don’t get me wrong – while the books definitely have a scholarly feel, they are not in the least stuffy or unapproachable; quite the opposite in fact.
Outside of the Pearson lines, the dynamo also boasts impressive imprints such as Penguin (not available in the library), IBM Press, the popular SAMS, QUE Publishing, and Cisco Press.
With about 5,000 Pearson titles available, you won’t have any trouble finding a book to suit your needs. If I had to steer you in the direction of four great examples to start with, you could not go wrong with these books:
While I haven’t had much occasion to read books by this company (I did read their MCSA title), many techies I know swear by their work. A niche market to be sure, Exam Cram creates “bibles” dedicated to helping you pass the various certification exams (ie; CCNA, CISA, COMPTIA A+, and so on).
If you have ever looked into one of these exams, taken a course to prep for them, or taken a test, you know that they can be quite costly, and you definitely want to be prepared when you step into the testing office. With that being said, I can’t think of a better resource to prep than a company whose whole focus is on the preparation of these exams. As an aside, Safari is made for books such as these – they are often bulky, and can be thousands of pages in length; having those pages indexed and searchable gives you a huge advantage in my opinion.
There are over 140 Exam Cram titles in the Safari repository; below are some of the most popular:
In this article we looked at four of the fifty publishers in the Safari Online library. Some were large and what you would expect, others were smaller, niche markets you may not normally consider, but whose titles are worth mentioning nonetheless.
If you would like to learn more about the publishers in Safari Books Online, or would like to preview all of the titles available/get a feel for the product, why not sign up for a free trial? Right now Safari Books Online has an offer specifically for Developer Shed readers: 10 day free trial and save 30% for the next six months. You can sign-up for the trial at http://www.safaribooksonline.com/d/limits/devshed?cid=201108-my-devshededitorial1-limits2-links.
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