Technical publisher O’Reilly was an early ebook pioneer. They released their ebooks DRM-free in many formats, sold direct to consumers, and offered print-digital bundles before anyone else.
Now the trailblazing has come to an end. O’Reilly sent out an email yesterday to its customers with the news that it was closing its ebookstore (coincidentally, I just learned I have two accounts at O’Reilly):
Things are changing at the O’Reilly online shop—as of today, we are no longer selling individual books and videos via shop.oreilly.com. Of course, we’ll continue to publish books and videos on the topics you need to know, like data science, product management, and leadership—and you’ll still be able to buy them at Amazon and other retailers. And these important things about your O’Reilly account are staying exactly the same:
- You’ll still have access to every ebook and video listed in “Your Products” on your O’Reilly account page.
- We’ll alert you when those products are updated, and you can download the revised version from the “Your Products” page.
- You can still send the O’Reilly ebooks you’ve purchased to Dropbox and/or Google Drive.
O’Reilly will continue to offer its ebooks through Safari Books Online, its subscription service. And of course it distributes ebooks through the Kindle Store and other retailers where the ebooks are available for sale or rent.
This is a shame, but not surprise. O’Reilly launched its ebookstore at a time where that store was the easiest and least painful way to get ebooks to customers.
Now most ebook sales are made through the Kindle Store, and a lot of people get their technical books through Safari. (In fact, I would not be surprised if O’Reilly had done a cost benefit analysis and learned that Safari generated more revenue.)
Edit: Nailed it.
So why the change? It’s clear that we’re in the midst of a fundamental shift in how people get and use their content. Subscription services like Spotify and Netflix are the new norm, as people opt for paying for digital access rather than purchasing physical units one by one. We’ve already seen this in our own business—the growth of membership on Safari far exceeds the individual units previously purchased on oreilly.com. That’s one reason for the change.