Eric collects multiple data points, including Kendall’s XML Book Business indicating that the tech book business is not doing well. Of course I’ve always thrown off the curve when it comes to buying books (and not just tech books), but I noticed that I am buying a different style of book these days.
My 3 most recent tech book purchases have been 2 books from O’Reilly’s “Hacks” series, Linux Server Hacks (which is excellent!), and Spidering Hacks (which hasn’t arrived yet, but whose ToC overcame both my doubts about the authors, and a feeling that it would be too junior), and Manning’s Eclipse in Action (from their new “In Action” series).
No 800+ page reference books here. (and no XML books) The Hacks books are short, relevant, and fun. They build on the what I consider to be the best O’Reilly book ever, the Perl Cookbook, but corrected for the accelerated, networked world we live in. Eclipse in Action similarly eschews the reference book approach and plays to Manning’s traditional strengths, blending theory, and best practices effortlessly with the more traditional material (as seen in the excellent Object Oriented Perl, and Web Development with JSP). EiA doesn’t just cover how to use Eclipse, but assumes you’re wanting to use it in an agile development environment with CVS, Ant, JUnit, and optionally Tomcat and log4j. Talk about getting it right!
No lofty conculsions, but wanted to add a data point to the mix. Though as I sit with it, I think that I’m using the web to find both the traditional reference style info O’Reilly used to be famous for, and the thought provoking theory books in the Addison-Wesley style (which has largely been replaced by blogs like Ted and Dan, CiteSeer, and Artima, and were always the hardest to justify spending the money on)