Free Technical Books, Online

(Inspired by James Tauber, I’m going to try to write a blog post every day for November. Some of them will be here but others will be over on my personal blog.)

When Oreilly originally launched their Safari Books Online service in 2001 I was really excited. I love technical books but they’re expensive to buy and heavy to carry around. It turned out that they were expensive to read online too. Full access to Safari costs almost $500/year and a limited ten-books-a-month plan costs over $250/year. I don’t spend nearly that much money on technical books as it is, and while I’d save some time over just Googling for information that’s available freely online I’m basically a cheapskate.

Today I noticed that San Francisco Public Library offers access to SBO. A bit of digging showed me that the Oakland Public Library (where my lovely wife works) also have a Safari subscription. With my library card number I can about a third of the books on the main site – but that seems to be a broad and deep collection. There’s no downloading and the lynda.com videos aren’t available. But the price is great.