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30 O'Reilly Titles Now Available as Ebook Bundles; Many In Kindle Store Later Today

Update: According to Amazon, the O’Reilly Kindle books can now be pre-ordered, but won’t be available for download until Friday. The 12 titles listed below are now available in the Kindle store.

O'Reilly Ebook BundlesAs promised last month, O’Reilly has released 30 titles as DRM-free downloadable ebook bundles. The bundles include three ebook formats (EPUB, PDF, and Kindle-compatible Mobipocket) for a single price — at or below the book’s cover price. And for a bit more than the cover price, you can get the print version too along with the ebook bundles.

Since we began selling PDFs directly some time ago, we’ve given those customers free updates to the PDFs to reflect published changes in the books; the same will apply to the ebook bundle, which will replace the PDF option on those titles. These files (like all our PDFs currently for sale) do not include any DRM, though we continue to experiment with custom watermarking options.

With these three formats, customers should be able to read the books with most current ebook software and devices, including Adobe Digital Editions, Kindle, Blackberries, and Sony Reader (Sony announced in May that EPUB support is forthcoming in a firmware update for their Reader).

Twelve of those 30 titles will also be available through the Kindle store later today are now available.

Ebook Bundles Now Available

The titles now available as ebook bundles are:

Kindle Titles Available Later Today Now

These books should all be are now available from the Kindle store later today:

What’s Missing on the Kindle

Of the 30 titles we’ve released as part of this ebook pilot, only 12 will be available right away are now available on the Kindle store. As we’ve mentioned before, the Kindle does not currently support some of the elements that are pretty critical to many of our books, including tables and monospaced fonts. Right now if you see a proper table in any Kindle book, it’s actually just an image of the table — which means it’s neither searchable nor resizable, two key features in an ebook.

Because the bundles available from oreilly.com include PDFs that mirror the printed book, we felt comfortable including Mobipocket files for Kindle users in all 30, even though many include tables that will not properly display on the Kindle. Since Kindle store customers won’t have the benefit of the PDF for reference, we’re only including titles there that have had their tables converted to images — an unfortunately arduous process that may take a few weeks for the remaining 18 titles. All 30 of the above titles will be available in the Kindle store within a few weeks (and customers who bought the bundle will receive updated Mobipocket versions for free as they become available).

We did work with Amazon to experiment using an alternative for rendering our books on the Kindle so they’d more closely match the printed layout (including tables and monospaced text). But that option involved Amazon converting our PDFs into their undocumented and opaque topaz file format — a process that also undermined the searchability of the content. We look forward to seeing Amazon support real tables, monospaced fonts, and the EPUB format natively in the Kindle.

You can find more information about O’Reilly ebooks, including details on the different formats, at oreilly.com/ebooks. We welcome your feedback on our ebooks, and encourage you to tell Amazon that you want tables, monospaced fonts, and native EPUB supported on your Kindle.

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Comments: 36

  1. I wish to congratulate O’Reilly on doing this.

    The combination of file types is very welcome, EPUB for future proofing, PDF for typographical accuracy and Mobipocket for general use, makes investing in your excellent books a very sensible and secure one.

    Please keep up the work and try and convert as much of your inventory as possible (there are quite a number of titles I would buy, but only a couple on the present list).

    I do not have a Kindle (indeed they are not available in Australia), but I do own an Iliad, and will buy a Sony when epub is supported natively. Hopefully DRM issues will not exclude people like myself.

    The best of luck with your exciting initiative.

  2. I certainly hope you don’t lose a lot of money from avoiding DRM! I know it’s all the rage to avoid DRM, but it can cause problems if customers don’t police themselves.

    Personally, I’m a big fan of physical books. Always have been, will be for the forseeable future. There’s something about a book that just can’t be replicated by an electronic device.

  3. “I know it’s all the rage to avoid DRM, but it can cause problems if customers don’t police themselves.”

    Where’s the evidence for this?

  4. Bravo for this initiative. No DRM, multi-format bundles, epub, priced less than the paper book… You’ve really got everything right. Yet another reason to love O’Reilly ! I hope you’ll continue to release titles as ebooks and I really hope other publishers will follow in your footsteps !

    Thanks for everything, and looking forward to reading even more great O’Reilly books in digital format.

  5. I’ve just started buying PDFs from O’Reilly — congratulations on your commitment to DRM Free electronic publishing. Obviously you need a way to protect your digital content from running amok in the wild, so watermark away as long as it continues to work on all platforms.

    With greater numbers of your titles available in PDF or other electronic media, I look forward to the day when I cease to be an O’Reilly print book customer!

  6. “Where’s the evidence for this?”

    Well, you could look at the percentage of Bittorrent traffic that infringes copyright, for example…

  7. I see your strong argument against selling most of the titles through the Kindle store. My question is what incentive do you have to sell any of them through the Kindle store.

  8. “Well, you could look at the percentage of Bittorrent traffic that infringes copyright, for example…”

    Adding DRM didn’t stop those books becoming available on bittorrent and I’m sure even with no DRM they’ll still appear on bittorrent. Even books that were never released in electronic format end up on bittorrent. Whether customers police themselves or not, the addition or removal of DRM will not do anything to change that.

    The big difference however is that legit customers are no longer been restricted in their usage of the books (or more importantly, future device usage). Take care of your legitimate customers and pursue the pirates through other means.

    This is something I really have to applaud o’reilly for doing, especially in going the extra mile and providing multiple formats for the same cost and a reasonable discount if you go ebook rather than paperback.

    I’ve several o’reilly programming books that I’d love to see in a decent format for viewing on a 6″ eBook reader (for which PDF’s really aren’t suitable) and look forward to seeing some of those titles go on sale. (especially whilst the $/£ remains in the UK’s favour 😉

  9. Regarding DRM, it doesn’t help. There are a number of O’Reilly bestsellers that we have not, for various reasons, sold directly off oreilly.com in digital format, and they are all available from filesharing websites. We live in a time when published content can no longer be controlled, and the absence of books from these sites is more a statement of their perceived value than the quality of DRM. Because of this, my rule of thumb is to trust our customers to do the right thing, and regard the rest as free marketing.

  10. While I certainly applaud your effort to release these titiles in multiple formats, I must just be cheap. I would have expected a much more substantial discount on the electronic version vs. the printed one.

    After you remove the printing cost, the distribution cost, storage costs, shipping and who knows what else I’m supposed to jump for joy at a 20% discount?

    For a $5 difference on some of the titles, I think I’ll stick the print version.

  11. Hello Steve,

    Regarding the discount, average PPB (Print, Paper, Binding) and distribution make up 26% of the cost of print books, so a 20% discount isn’t that far off the mark. While there are savings associated with digital, we’re also building in extra costs that we hope translate to added value. For example, our PDFs aren’t just snapshots of our print books, but are bookmarked, searchable, and linked. The addition of the additional formats–.epub and .mobi–also add processes and costs to our production group and, we believe, additional utility to our customers. Lastly, the fact that customers have free access to any updated versions of the books they purchase, something that isn’t possible in print, is a significant upgrade.

    Added together, I think the benefits justify the cost.

    Regards, –Allen

  12. Allen,

    First thank you for the response, it truly is appreciated.

    I guess I just expected the discount to be more substantion than it appears at first glance. The additional formats, PDF features, etc are certainly great additions.

    I love all the O’Reilly books I own and hope this effort succeeds wildly for you. (Secretly, I’m hoping that wild success will lead to additional discounts though)

    Good luck.

  13. I’m a book fanatic. I must have around to 250 technical books. My bigest problem is space. I recently had to look for some place that would take more than 80 old books (Window NT, Borland C++, Java 1.1, etc…), that I needed to get read off in order to make room for newer ones (my local library wouldn’t take them).

    My other problem is when I need a book at work, it’s usually home and vice versa.

    So, the electronic format should look like the perfect answer right? Well, it is, but I still have a minor problem with it. Having only a 20% or so discount over the print version makes it for all intends and purposes more expensive than the print version.

    The way I buy my books, is I make a list of the books I want to buy and every month I check Bookpool and other retailers to see what on my list is on sale with 35% or greater discount and buy it. So electronic books are still more expensive for me that print ones.

  14. @Angel: Thanks for the feedback. We’re still exploring our pricing options, though we do feel that including multiple, DRM-free formats and free updates makes it worth the price (and of course, you can also get both the print and electronic versions for about 30% above the print price).

    Again, thanks for the feedback, we do appreciate it.

  15. (For this post let’s ignore the piracy issue completely. It just blurs the real issue.)

    In the past I have bought many O’Reilly books and have found them to have great content and well worth the price.

    I do understand that you folk need to make money to pay for groceries and have been happy to buy your ice-cream. I work as a software developer and am subject to a similar earnings situation.

    In future I will not be buying any of your eBooks as far as I can see. The truth is that the entire book publishing industry has perpetrated a huge grab in the last two years or so and at least doubled the price of print books. Your raw costs have increased, no doubt. Again I understand your dilemma but would remind you that your customers have choices.

    Then you do the eBook thing and price those at a discount from the print price.

    EBooks seem like a good idea but you are not “getting” where your customers are coming from.

    Basically we have three choices: buy the book (print or electronic), library or web. Two of those choices cost us nothing. The third is unlikely for most given your pricing models.

    If you sold your eBooks for $5 I would probably buy one or two a month. At $19 I will buy none. Would you rather have $10 a month from me or nothing?

    It seems simple really. What am I missing?

  16. I have bought O’Reilly books regularly for about 15 years. When combined print/digital versions were available (like the CD bookshelf series), I would get the digital versions onto flash drives and keep the originals in the basement.
    Well, I just had a small basement flood that trashed many of those O’Reilly books. O’Reilly staff, if you want to see a watermark that thwarts theft of intellectual property, I can show you some good examples. I’m real glad I have the digital copies in a dry place. But I lost a 1991 1st edition Perl camel book that I hoped would become a valuable antique.
    So the sooner you digitize your offerings, the better.
    Also glad I spent time ripping my CD collection to MP3, 25% of my CD collection was immersed.

  17. @David Taylor — I can say with certainty that we have *not* come anywhere near “doubling” the prices of our printed books. In fact, based on a quick-and-dirty lookup, when looking at our historical pricing data, I see a rise from about 2004 to an average of nearly $40 in 2006; since then, prices have dropped in both 2007 and 2008 (so far).

    We’re still exploring options for pricing of ebooks, but as Allen mentioned above:

    “average PPB (Print, Paper, Binding) and distribution make up 26% of the cost of print books, so a 20% discount isn’t that far off the mark. While there are savings associated with digital, we’re also building in extra costs that we hope translate to added value. For example, our PDFs aren’t just snapshots of our print books, but are bookmarked, searchable, and linked. The addition of the additional formats–.epub and .mobi–also add processes and costs to our production group and, we believe, additional utility to our customers. Lastly, the fact that customers have free access to any updated versions of the books they purchase, something that isn’t possible in print, is a significant upgrade.”

    We also offer the alternative of Safari Books Online for customers who want a single monthly price for access to all of our books. Thanks for your feedback, and I hope that you find an option among the choices we offer that meets your needs.A

  18. I just wanted to say thank you for starting to print your books digitally. You have no idea how much space you’re going to save me!!! Btw, umm, is “Learning Perl” coming out soon? I juat bought it a month ago in print, and would love to load it onto my Sony Reader. It’s even worth buying again – sometimes it’s convenience that furthers education 🙂

  19. @Andrew – Thanks for responding. I do see that you are trying to price your books in a way that makes sense to you.

    It seems to me though that your attempts to price “at a discount” from print books are misguided at best and silly at worst.

    You need to start thinking in terms of “at an increment” from ZERO. The web is a huge place and offers amazing content for free. You would be wise to consider how much EXTRA you want to make from your existing paper publishing business. If you were only publishing digitally then I do agree that you need to take the discount approach.

    On the other hand, if you price your digital content incrementally, then you stand to actually make more money overall. This argues for DRM but that capability is built in to the Adobe ePub model, so that should not be hard.

    As far as your comment about Safari books is concerned, I am aware of Safari and even have completely FREE access to it via the Marin County Library, which offers Safari free to Marin residents via the Califa Group.

    Free access to Safari probably biases me even more to the incremental pricing model. I just think that you are leaving a bunch of money on the table and a bunch of people unhappy to have to walk past your counter.

  20. Hello Dave,

    Can you give me an example of what you’d propose as incremental pricing, something that would work for you? I was responsible for many of the pricing decisions for our digital content, so I’m very interested to learn more. Give me an example for a print books that costs, say, $49.95. What increments would the digital, or print, be available at?

    Regards, –Allen

  21. Allen,

    I responded in private but I did mention my price of $5, really $4.99, in my first post above.


  22. Thanks so much for continuing to push in this direction, O’Reilly!

    Although I do agree that it *feels a bit pricey, I’ve *always felt that way about computer and tech related (or any micro-market) books in general.

    One thought I did have was possibly making a way for previous owners of the print editions of books to buy the digital editions at a much higher discount. I don’t know how that would fit into your model, but for books that weren’t previously available in their electronic forms I would definitely purchase the digital form if only for back-up purposes for 5 or 10 bucks (probably closer to the 5 number).

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  23. Please Please Please find a way to put more of the excellent book collections onto the Kindle. The more I use it, the more I like it, the more I buy and store on it. But, finding **good** books like those from O’Reilly is difficult….because yours are usually THE definitive guide/reference/handbook. So count my “yes” vote for complete integration into the world of Kindle publishing. Well, enough shameless begging for tonight….

  24. @ThomR — Glad you like our books, Thom! We’re eager to see Amazon implement support for monospaced font and tables into the Kindle, which would make it a much more compelling option for our content.

    I can’t yet provide anything concrete in terms of dates, but you can expect to see much more from us on the ebook front in the coming months. As a reminder, when you purchase any of our books from oreilly.com as PDFs, you’ll receive the ebook version(s) as free updates as they become available.

  25. How would (or should) a library handle this type of book?

    If a print book is purchased, it can be cataloged and lent out multiple times, but you get the physical item back.

    With an electronic book, you could certainly lend it out, but there’d be no way of knowing or insuring that people deleted it from their computer once the lending period was up.

  26. Great idea. two comments 1). The discount shoud be much greater as your printing and distribution costs are much lower, so you could charge %50 of the print price and make a similar profit. 2). Choice is too limited and almost nothing up there interests me – so lack of sales might not reflect lack of interest in the method but rather the content currently available.

    For me e-books represent convenience and cost savings.

  27. Why would I buy the digital edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Third Edition from you for $31.99 when I can buy the hard copy from Amazon for $26.39?

  28. How does the Kindle compare to the Sony/Waterstone’s “Reader” for reading O’Reilly titles?


  29. @Neil — Actually, for us printing and binding is closer to 25% of the cost. A huge part of the cost of a book is totally independent of the unit cost of the output format; it’s in the editorial, development, production, sales, and marketing costs. And yes, the current selection for this pilot is small, though we’re working on some substantial infrastructure and process improvements to significantly expand that selection during the next few months.

    @Kublai — That’s a great question. Obviously Amazon has chosen to heavily discount that title, something we don’t have direct control over, but must certainly consider when choosing our pricing. It’s definitely an ongoing conversation internally. That said, when you buy the electronic version from us, you get multiple DRM-free versions along with free updates.

    @Ian — Most of the people I’ve talked to with Sony Readers prefer the Sony’s reading experience to the Kindle. The Kindle’s advantage comes from the wireless connection directly to the Amazon store.

  30. Thanks for doing this O’Reilly and allowing owners of the Sony eReader and Kindle have tech books to read. Please don’t choose one format over another though, please continue to use Adobe so that us Sony Reader owners will always have your books, even more, now that Sony has opened their reader to pretty much any format. I would realy love to see more books though, mainly SQL and .Net. Thanks for realizing that ebooks are the future!!

  31. Just wanted to let everyone know (since you mention it in the article above) that Sony’s Reader PRS-505 supports the ePub format as of the end of July 2008. There is a firmware upgrade available at Sony’s Support site. Alas, the PRS-500 doesn’t have the internal RAM needed to support the new firmware (as is my understanding).

    And just to add my thanks to the laud above: Special thanks to O’Reilly for supporting eBooks and especially non-DRM’d eBooks. The idea of me being able to trade in my Sony Reader for something else later on and still have access to my books is wonderful.

    One request, please extend this to the rest of your line as well. I have enjoyed the ability for me to purchase a book and being able to carry it between home and work!

  32. Thank you OReilly! You folks are regularly leading the charge.

    Please include your Python line on the kindle!

  33. this compliments all the oreilly books i already have. i like the feel of paper better but for a preview this is ok

  34. Would love all of Safari on the kindle!

  35. Would love all of Safari on the kindle!

  36. Why not use something like Adobe Digital Editions to allow me to use safari with my Sony prs-505.
    It works nicely with my local library 🙂

    For single title purchase I really like that I can get ePUB without DRM.

    In time I hope that I can get rid of my paper tech books entirely.

    I would even buy a exclusive device just for accessing safari books. I’m prepared to pay up to 400$ for a 6″ – 800$ if it is A4 screen size. It would have to be a E-Ink device, mind you.