Computer Book Market as Canary in the Coal Mine

Over on O’Reilly’s Radar blog, Open Technology Exchange General Manager Mike Hendrickson provides some nice context and analysis of year-end computer-book sales data.

While this covers only computer books (across all publishers, not just O’Reilly), from experience we know the techies who buy our books are often the canaries in the coal mine for much broader market segments. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales touched on this at TOC 2007, where he noted that much of the earliest content on Wikipedia skewed heavily geek (video below, and linked here).

I’ve heard some publishers say, "my content won’t migrate online"; in particular those producing things like glossy photography books. While it’s certainly true that, for example, a selection of professional photographs of my hometown Chicago might look great on my coffee table, the top results for a Chicago search on Flickr, combined with my own shots into a custom book is now an affordable option for a truly one-of-a-kind product.

As the graph above shows, the alpha geeks are already doing this with content they previously would have looked for in our books:

To: WebDesign-L List
Subject: Re: [WD]: Book Recommendation
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2006 07:33:47 -0700

> What is the best book to learn JavaScript. I am looking for one that
> has examples and if possible a method reference. I am also looking
> for books on php and CSS. If anyone knows of any good books let me
> know.

	Paul, the O'Reilly books are excellent and the Javascript book
        holds many gems as far as syntax is concerned. But I find the web
        a way better resource for JavaScript and my favorite link

Your customers could be next.