Friday, January 7, 2011

Safari Books Online Drops Testing Titles in Library Subscription?!

OK, I know I may get some flack for this, but hey, I'm a little bummed and I want to vent.

Where I live, we have a library system that is interconnected up and down the San Francisco peninsula; every public and college library in the county is linked together and shares resources. This is a good thing. I'm a heavy user and a heavy advocate of the public library system (and as a homeowner, I'm also a direct supporter of it through my property taxes). This is to say that I get a benefit that is seen as "Free", but is actually paid for by me (leaving out politics or political leanings, that's not the point of this post).

Many of the books that are available through the library system are as E-Books, and a lot of the technical titles come through O'Reilly's Safari Books Online program. There are a number of great books, and I've enjoyed reading a number of them, perusing through a few, getting an idea as to which ones are good quality and which are "meh!" and I've even ordered a few for myself after reading through and finding some gems in the mix.

On New Year's Day, I logged in to find out that almost all of the books directly related to Software Testing are gone. No longer listed. Can't be referenced or found. Why? Of all the books that could be pruned, why were so many titles related to Software Testing removed?! I'm genuinely at a loss for this, and while there are still a number of titles that can still be accessed, it's about 1/4 of what was there in 2010. Again, why?!

Now, don't get me wrong, they still have over 3,000 titles about software development and many of those books have software testing content in them, but a bunch of the dedicated books that I enjoyed reading and referencing have been removed. I've also found it interesting to see that, of the dedicated books that do remain, most are titles I've been less fond of. What gives? What goes into making these decisions? Who decides which books get on the list and which get off the list?!

I intend to follow up on this with the Peninsula Library System and I've already sent a modified portion of this post to Safari Books Online. If I find out anything, I'll post again or update this entry. Suffice it to say, I'm somewhat bummed by this turn of events.

Updated: Interesting, it looks like the subscription model is based on the dates the books are published, which now that I see some of the date of publishing, looks to make sense. See below:

Thank you for your email. The Peninsula Library System subscribes to a subset of the larger Safari Tech Library. They subscribe to a library which contains all books from the current year, plus the two previous years. So as of January 1, 2011; their subscription would be all books from 2011, 2010 and 2009. Book from 2008 would have fallen off.

I believe the books you were looking for fell off not because they are in the category of "Software Testing" but actually because they probably have a publication date of 2008. If you know of some specific books you were searching for, I can check their publication date for you.

You may want to contact the librarian at the Peninsula Library System and let them know you would be interested in a Safari subscription with more books. Perhaps they might want to upgrade their account.

I hope this helps, but I am available for any further questions or comments you may have.

My thanks to O'Reilly/Safari Books Online for the quick response. Glad to see it's not anything nefarious.

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