Wednesday, July 5, 2017

O’Reilly Closes Its Online Store

John Fomook (Hacker News):

This week, O’Reilly Media stopped retailing books directly on our ecommerce store.


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 That’s one reason for the change.

Scott Meyers (via Hacker News):

To me, the most interesting implication of this announcement is that O’Reilly’s no-DRM policy apparently resonated little with the market. Other technical publishers I’m familiar with (e.g., Addison-Wesley, the Pragmatic Programmer, Artima) attempt to discourage illegal dissemination of copyrighted material (e.g., books in digital form) by at least stamping the buyer’s name on each page. O’Reilly went the other way, trusting people who bought its goods not to give them to their friends or colleagues or to make them available on the Internet.

Laura Baldwin:

We heard from some of you that you’re unhappy about that decision, especially because no other sellers offer DRM-free ebooks in multiple digital formats. You’re right about that, but there’s more to the story.


After our announcement, the bulk of your requests have been for PDFs versus kindle or ePub format. We’re already working on offering PDF downloads as part of the Safari subscription, as well as other new features to support offline reading. And we are looking into ways for our resellers to support unit sales of PDFs.


Many of you have also commented that the books moved from lay-flat to regular bindings. That decision came when we became acutely aware of excess inventory sitting in warehouses as print declined. So we became one of the first book publishers to publish print-on-demand (POD) books, where lay-flat is not possible. The reality of POD is actually higher unit costs (think economies of scale…printing one versus printing thousands at once) but far less waste. The benefit of course is fewer dead trees, as well as lower costs overall.

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