I've used Safari (the O'Reilly version) for a number of years now and it is a resource I often recommend to coworkers. Basically, it's an on-line library of technical books (since expanded to include video) from a group of publishers. O'Reilly, Microsoft Press, Cisco Press, Syngress, and many others have books and resources on-line at Safari. It came into being in 2001 but I remember a predecessor version back in the late 90s from Que Publishing/Macmillan Computer Publishing called Personal Bookshelf, which I also used. Back in those days I was in the Air Force and that provided some of the technical books I couldn't afford on an Air Force salary.
Subscribing to Safari gives one the ability to put a certain number of books onto a "bookshelf" and the books have to remain there for one month. The exception is the library subscription, which has no limit to how many books you can have on your bookshelf (favorites). Another advantage of the Library subscription level is it gives access to Rough Cuts (books in pre-release stages), Short Cuts (excerpts from books and other material on a focused topic), and Video. Library also gives one five download tokens a month (and up to 3 months can be accumulated). You can pay for some of these features separately if you don't get Library level, but the Library level, at least for me, is the best value package deal. For those interested in getting their organization's on Safari, yes, there are apparently corporate plans, too.
I initially subscribed to Safari because it was cheaper than the equivalent price of one technical book a month. Even at the Library level, it's still at the lower end of the technical book range. The number of books which I have access to far exceeds that novel price. I say novel because when I considered how much I was spending on technical books, it was well worth the price to me. I have a friend who doesn't use Safari because he indicates he can find everything on-line. To some extent this is true. However, when I was leading my organization's Active Directory migration, Safari became my Active Directory library. Having those resources readily at hand without having to lug 4 or 5 Active Directory books around was priceless.
Others have written about the value they find in Safari, such as Sean McCown (Database Underground on InfoWorld). He specifically mentions some of the books/authors he found on there as a reason to recommend Safari. The catalog is quite large and it's not unusual for a book to appear in Safari shortly after publication, say within a few months. Safari also does a good job of putting older books on-line that may be of interest to some, such as the older O'Reilly published Perl books. Here is a list of some of the books that are on-line right now which are relatively recent (within the last year or two) and relevant to this blog:
- Learning MySQL
- MySQL 5.0 Certification Study Guide
- MySQL Administrator's Guide and Language Reference
- Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005: The Storage Engine
- Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005: T-SQL Querying
- Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005: T-SQL Programming
- SQL Server 2005 Practical TroubleShooting: The Database Engine
- Introducing Windows Server 2008
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Performance Guide
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Troubleshooting Guide