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Would You Use an Online Library?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the tossing-away-your-library-card dept.

Books 49

langeland asks: "I have a friend who is selling subscriptions to an online library of computer literature (for example Books 24x7 or O'Reilly's Safari). He's trying hard to convince me that a library of 3000 books on anything from introductions to various programming languages and reference books to Windows 2003 Server, or MySQL is actually useful. I don't get it - nobody would read a whole book online anyway, so they can only be useful for trouble shooting ad hoc problems (or am I wrong here?). I'm thinking Google is a lot faster for solving problems at the busy job, and you'll probably find good plain web references on most technologies and stick with them. The price for a subscription to Books 24x7 is 400$ a year/seat! Do You have experience with these online libraries? Are they useful and worth the money?"

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Virtual Library? (4, Insightful)

Firehawke (50498) | more than 10 years ago | (#8884861)

Well, it's nice to have physical books, but sometimes space is a concern. In comparison, a virtual library is MUCH smaller to store. Also compare the costs of all of those books to the price for the subscription and it comes out cheaper in the long run. Still, preference would go a long way towards if you'd even consider it in the first place.

Re:Virtual Library? (2, Insightful)

pphrdza (635063) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885398)

compare the costs of all of those books to the price for the subscription and it comes out cheaper in the long run

Assuming you would buy all the books.

Re:Virtual Library? (3, Insightful)

Firehawke (50498) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885797)

Well, thinking from my own position as a sysadmin with a situation where I end up doing a little of everything on occasion, including debugging systems I didn't develop.. well, having access to books even outside my normal ken would be handy. Why spend $30 on a book I'll use three times? If I end up doing the research through the library enough, I'm more than breaking even.

Re:Virtual Library? (1)

BinLadenMyHero (688544) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886567)

Assuming you would pay the subscription, if you can download [] them on the net?

no way... (3, Insightful)

chrisopherpace (756918) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885095)

at $400/seat/year, Google does just fine for me. Wikipedia as well. Google information is *MAYBE* a week old, whereas your friend's information is probably at least 100x that. That's what's so greate about the internet, information always gets updated.

Re:no way... (2, Insightful)

jmpoast (736629) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885497)

That's what's so greate about the internet, information always gets updated

But whats bad about the internet is the information isn't always validated or correct.

Re:no way... (1)

chrisopherpace (756918) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885670)

In a smaller scale, encyclopedias (sp?) have errors as well, lots of them. One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was finding errors in them. :)

buy a few books, google / mls for the rest (5, Insightful)

DamienMcKenna (181101) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885412)

My recommendation is to buy some _good_ books for the core technologies you use and use a combination of web sites (via google), mailing lists and IRC for the rest. Books are your best source for how to do things right, mailing lists and IRC are your best source for what to do when it doesn't work right.

Just my $0.02 from doing this for a few years.


Re:buy a few books, google / mls for the rest (1)

BinLadenMyHero (688544) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886524)

Same here, about googling and IRC'ing.

But the only book I ever bought related to computers were Tannembaun's "Modern Operating System", at my second or third year at university.
Most things I learned, it was from other people. Others I made up myself.

I tried it... (3, Informative)

Greasy Spoon (2317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885428)

and didn't get that much value from it. I was able to Google the information I needed. Cancelled my subscription after 3 months...

Searchable Library (4, Interesting)

hords (619030) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885429)

I would use a searchable library for reference, but I wouldn't pay $400 a year when Google already works as a good reference for most answers. Amazon has that new "Search Inside the Book" that might end up being useful, but honestly most of the information I need is when something doesn't work. Google it real quick and the answer is usually there. I don't want to read a whole book on the subject for the most part. Maybe it has something to do with that "short attention span and brain damage" randomly shuffling my brain.

I have read 2 ebooks (3, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885435)

all the way through. "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins and "An Oblique Approach" by David Drake. Both were available to download for free. I read both on my lap top and it took a really long time- I had to have free time, my laptop powered up and be somewhere it was convenient. I would say it took twice as long as if they had been printed copies.

For reference material- the stuff I use the most I print out and put into binders (Like all my PostgreSQL manuals) I have "Unix in a Nutshell" on CD and in print. I use the print version almost exclusively. Even without a searching tool I can find stuff faster.

Last but not least- I don't care what the value of all the thousands of books is compared to the cost of the subscription. What is the difference between what the subscription costs and the cost of the books I would have bought or needed? Factor in the lack of usability and that price difference needs to be huge. It still isn't for any such services I've looked at.

safari for regularly updated reference materials (4, Interesting)

perlchild (582235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885439)

*disclaimer safari subscriber*

I used to buy the animal books on several topics, mostly perl programming

Then I got the safari subscription
imagine this:
oreilly comes up with fourth edition of dns and bind
I have paper third edition of dns and bind
I use safari to get fourth edition, and I don't need the paper one anymore.
Since a lot of the animal books I use are very sucessful, and get updated every so often, just because I can replace one edition with the next at no charge, I save a bundle of money, provided I don't need hardcopy of the work in question, the web interface to it might actually save me time(mostly searching, although with practice, the internal binary-page search is pretty damn hard to beat, it's the "read entire TOC" that takes a while.)

Of course, I've been known to read entire online volumes on topics I was less familiar with(I can't say I'd do it with something like the perl cookbook) but so far, Safari is working out for me.

Re:safari for regularly updated reference material (2, Insightful)

BinLadenMyHero (688544) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886692)

> I use safari to get fourth edition, and I don't need the paper one anymore.

And do you really need every new edition?

Re:safari for regularly updated reference material (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8894205)

I'm a consultant, paid to keep current on many topics, so on some topics, yes...
It's however a case of "do more with the same money" instead of "do the same with less money" if that's what you mean.

Great resource (3, Insightful)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885440)

I subscribe to O'Reilly's Safari, and find it a really helpful resource.

Being able to search through a bunch of books and see problems from multiple angles is a really cool thing.

Yes, it's all on Google... but I think that the quality of information in published books is often better and is very convenient to find.

It's actually not bad (2, Informative)

bbuchs (551229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885443)

I had a subscription to Safari about 8 months ago. I only kept it for 2 months, but while I had it, it was pretty useful.

At the time, I was trying to "expand" my skillset, so I got to have access to several virtual books on one subject - for the same price as one physical copy. I also kept a few reference books in my virtual library - again, cheaper than having a hard copy sitting in the shelf.

In the end, it was only useful for me while I was learning new things - I didn't see it as a long-term solution.

Books *TEXT* (1)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885458)

Well, I am almost ashamed to admit it but I went ahead and purchased the ATT natural voice pack that comes along with the wonderfully _buggy_ Textaloudmp3. (Really just a voice kit for windows and a crummy Text to Mp3 app) but I was just really tired of the festival voices (which was how I used to do the following:) Slice up a raw text book into parts small enough to navigate through with ffwd and rwd and convert to mp3. Then copy to neuros for ubiquitous listening pleasure.

How do I get a hold of em? Well, I do try looking for others on P2P/UUnet etc of the books I own but don't want to slice up (ugh... it was psychologically devestating the first few times.) If I don't find them there, I slice the binding on the book and scan them in.

Currently I have a scanned OCR (either of my making, or acquired) library of pretty much every paper back book I had before I moved. Slicing the binding with a paper slicer was the hard part, lining the pages up on my toploading scanner direct to PDF allows me to keep a relatively complete library in an easy to read format (at least on my lappy).

Any (public domain) literature I feel like reading I go to the gutenberg library mirrors. []

My big complaint when it comes to visual reading on a 'puter is I would like a good visual way to read a PDF (oss if possible) that would let me toss visual bookmarks/annotations onto the document... but once you get used to reading on a PDA and/or listening to the fun-ky com-put-er voic-es it's no-t tha-t ba-ad.

Re:Books *TEXT* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8885553)

Ugh Usenet.

and postscript: The space was a huge deal for me, I hated slicing through 40-90 dollar tech books but I am much happier I don't have to worry about 7 full moving boxes of books.

Books *TEXT*-DjVulibre. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8888641)

I use this [] . A good DPI scanner that allows the book to lie flat. No need to cut. Run through OCR (doesn't have to be perfect), and is viewable on all majour platforms. Look through the samples.

Books24x7 (1)

rmull (26174) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885465)

I use Books24x7 at work, thanks to a corporate subscription. It's really handy for when I need to throw something together using something which I know nothing about. I typically find as many sources as I can between that site and the web in general and then dive in. They don't usually have any more information necessarily, but it's nice to have many perspectives at one's fingertips.

Oh, and a lot of the books that Books24x7 gets really suck.

use Public Libraries first. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8885474)

The county I am living is affiliated with [] . So being a member of my local library (free), i get access to lotsa computer books via netlibrary. Some books may not be accessible, because local library did not purchase it(or something).

If I cannot find the book online, google and other search engines provide answers to me. Though, not as comprehensive as (e)books, it would serve most of my purpose.

Next stop would be local user group. Become a member of local user group, they have lotsa expertise and knowledge.

I would rather spend $30.00 on pizza (thats 3 large, w/ coupons, ofcourse) than print books, which get outdated in couple of months. Ofcourse, online versions get updated with new versions (u have to read fine print, some may not provide this offer).

Re:use Public Libraries first. (1)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886659)

Yeah, NetLibrary. I just discovered this recently. It works really, really well for me. My local library doesn't have the contract with them; but in this metro area, there's a reciprocity agreement with library memberships. A library card for my town makes me able to get one for the next town over, which does have access to NetLibrary. So I got a card from them too -- registered online, card snailmailed to me -- and now I can do NetLibrary from home.

If you haven't looked into whether your library, or one you otherwise have access to, has access to NetLibrary, you definitely should.

They are still missing the point (1)

cybermancer (99420) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885490)

These online libraries treat you like you are going to take a book and read it cover to cover online. Safari gives you a limited bookshelf that only holds so many books. You can only read books on your bookshelf. You can search all the books in the library, but you can only read the intro for each chapter until it is on your bookshelf. Books24x7 charges a price comparable to if you were going to be buying all those books.

When we go to the library, or even the book store, they let use browse all the books and read as much as we want there. The library lets you take a limited number of books home per day, but you are not limited to how much you read while there.

Virtual libraries have a lot to learn from brick and mortar libraries. The Internet always promises faster, better and cheaper, but rarely delivers on the last one. Seems the sellers are too greedy to share the reduced overhead with the buyers.

Things are measured as comparable in price to physically purchasing it. Like online music downloads, it is not uncommon for a service to compare their price per track to the price for a full CD. These virtual libraries compare their prices to what it would cost you to buy the books. They are missing the point.

Re:They are still missing the point (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885583)

The problem is that copyright owners are scared shitless of the internet, and attach too high a value to their works in electronic form.

"Too high" is my opinion, and since these services continue to exist, the market must think otherwise.

I use O'Reilly Safari (3, Informative)

dakkar (128056) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885491)

I am subscribed to the smallest service, 5 slots, 10 USD/month. I find it particularly useful for:
  • evaluating books to buy (esp. big references to almost-non-changing subjects)
  • looking up some part of a "cookbook"
  • reading tutorial-style books (that I won't need around when I'm through with them)

Of course, it's always a matter of balancing the price they ask with the value you get...

Re:I use O'Reilly Safari (2)

The MESMERIC (766636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885578)

I just joined Safari, didn't like it.
Yeah, there is a silent pressure for you to read the books otherwise you're losing money.
At first it feels great - whooah! - look how many technologies I am going to learn! .. but then pressure mounts in ...

I found a much better way to read e-books for free.

It's called P2P

I must be aging, fancy not downloading pr0n but Tcl/Tk manuals instead! (someone shoot me please?)

Very useful (2, Interesting)

acousticiris (656375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885527)

Our company did a pilot with Books24x7, and I found it to be incredibly useful.
I thought the same thing you did, but while I was using it I had a revelation: I read alot of crap online already. Being a programmer/analyst/support rep, having a computer library on my computer was far more logical than having the 5 shelves of books behind me. They had some problems... They lacked Photoshop books (in recent versions anyway), and others of their books were a little out of date (though my bookshelves behind me are far more out of date). But even with those deficiencies, I found the service very useful. The search capabilities were excellent. In a technical crisis, I used it to solve a problem and it proved far faster with a lower "signal to noise ratio" than Google or other internet searches. I wouldn't have dreamed of going through the 30 books behind me in a crisis.

During the pilot I read two books nearly cover to cover (I skipped a couple of chapters with the click of a mouse). But I was also able to gather snippits of very good information out of about 40 of the books they had related to my job. The efficiency improvement would be worth $400 a year.

obscure and overwhelming is valuable (1)

kippy (416183) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885544)

I can see paying for something like Lexus Nexus or some kind of medical information. In that case it might be worth paying for accountable, up to date data that you would have to work very hard to find the traditional ways. Looking for a particular procedure or precedent could take seconds online as opposed to looking through stacks of books.

General interest stuff like your friend seems to be pedaling should be and is free.

Safari (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885559)

I use Safari a little. I use it when I want to get started in something new.

For instance, last month I got a couple of the BSD books so I could get started learning FreeBSD. I skimmed through the chapters until I had enough to get me going. After that I switched over to using Google though to do some of the real troubleshooting after things didn't work out exactly right.

That said, Safari has a large selection, but some of the books are a little dated. Sometimes you don't realize that when you're just starting out in a topic.

Example: I tried to learn Flash a few months ago and subscribed to several books on the subject, yet none of them were really for the version I had. I didn't know what the major differences were between versions so I just jumped in.

Another problem with Safari is that while they give you excerpts from the book to read, you can't get the same feel for the book as if you were in a Borders and were able to actually thumb through the pages. I like to take 10 minutes and skim through an entire book and I can get a good feel if the book is valuable to me or not, and purchase accordingly. The bright side to Safari is that if you make a mistake, you're only out a couple bucks instead of $45.

So, they've got highs and lows. Try one out if you need convincing. $10 for a month should break anyones bank account.

$15.00 a month (1)

zulux (112259) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885561)

I get 5 sci-books a month - and get to download them in normall HTML. [] - from the publisher Baen. There's some free books there too to get you hooked.

Baen's books are generally light reading - usually fun and interesting.

Takes up Valuable Screen Space (1)

Ian_Bailey (469273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885588)

The reason I like books is that I can refer to them while the window I am working on remains in the foreground on my computer.

If screen space were cheap, and I could have a couple of tablets/screens that I could use all at once, I would use online resources exclusively, as they are usually faster to use.

However, I currently only have on monitor, and a lot of desk space. So I'm going to buy books instead to take of this space.

Re:Takes up Valuable Screen Space (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886041)

Screen space is cheap too. Spend a few hundred dollars on a second video card and monitor, it is great for developers, or anyone who is using their computer for work.

I can have 1 screen with my code on it, and another with the app I'm developing on it running so I can see what each code change does without having to switch windows.

Or I can have a help document open on one screen, and my code on the other. Or my SQL Enterprise manager open on one screen, code on the other. I can have my development environment open on 1 monitor, but my other monitor resized to 800x600 with my app I'm writing running on that monitor to see what it will look like on most of my client's machines, etc.... The possibilities of what to do with dual monitors is endless.

Both Windows and Linux support multiple monitors without any hassle. Once you try it, you'll never want to use a single monitor again.

wrong audience (1)

Felonius Thunk (168604) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885594)

It's not worth it to me, since there is a great deal of material Google can find for me fast and free. But I'm a techie, and techies put stuff out on the internet. This would probably be a really valuable service for things like law (already done), medicine (don't know), construction, and similar professional trades and research areas. Some specialized areas that I can think of that are maybes are travel books, field guides, children's picture books. Naturally it comes down to price for value, though.

Safari Works for me... (1)

grimace1969 (739534) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885596)

I am currently a Safari subscriber (thankfully work pays for it) I find it a useful compliment to Google. Yes there are times when you want to read a physical book, but I find that quick lookups are my main need. Yes the info might not be as up to date, but it tends to be better organized. Plus if you need to you can download and print the PDFs. I also find that series of books seem to explain things more consistently. Ever go through the PHP wiki? Lots of helpful comments, hundreds of different coding styles. There is a pro and a con, sure its great to get new ideas, but sometimes it is very helpful to have a "standard view" of things. Everyone works differently, your best bet is to try it out before you write it off. Safari offers a short term test subscription why not give it a spin?


I subscribe... (1)

Godeke (32895) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885667)

... because when I need a fact about a newly encountered product, I want a good overview that I can quickly scan for relevant details. I cycle books pretty quickly (I use google after I have some proficiancy with a tool) simply to keep my breadth of knowledge high. I think the price is reasonable (at the $10 a month I pay) as that represents a single technical book, maybe 1.5.

Safari (1)

prostoalex (308614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885759)

I am a paying Safari subscriber (minimal yearly plan) and have found it useful and worth the price. In some of the cases the book search feature worked well for me - couple of projects at work that required specific implementations of something I have never done before. A quick Safari search retrieved the results, I subscribed to the book and had the necessary code in front of me. Granted, the same could probably be done with Google, only would take more time to find, and at that time I was charging per hour, so would've been my loss.

Another thing is that I can explore the subjects foreign to me before. Safari has a variety of business titles on project management and what not, as well as good Cisco and Microsoft certification selection. I am thinking of getting a couple of MCSD exams under my belt, just because I know the books are out there, and my bookshelf is not filled in for the month.

I can't tell you when was the last time I bought a computer book. Unless it's some specific title I desperately need, for basically any topic I know I can always find an O'Reilly/Addison-Wesley equivalent on Safari.

As for reading off the screen, I think people are over-exaggerating the discomfort level. In Firefox with zoom selection and font sizes you can get decent page. When I get into reading stuff, I read on Safari from work, from home desktop and from my laptop while working out [] . I think it's the best money I ever spent on computer books.

electronic book (1)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885874)

An online library with some kind op electronic paper would be an ideal combination.
Paper will always beat reading of a screen.
It also cuts back on paper consumption.

Books (1)

spuke4000 (587845) | more than 10 years ago | (#8885939)

I've used quite extensively. My university has free access, either on campus in the libraries, or through a University proxy server. Forgetting the price for a moment I think it's an excellent resource. Googling is fine for small issues, but you usually get a very superficial introduction to a subject, or the material you find assumes you already know a great deal about the subject. I wanted to learn MFC, and found nothing through google that was both in depth enough and written for the beginner. Surely I could have found something, but being able to pull to 10 books on the subject without looking around was very useful.

I really hate having to read the books online, but if you found something you were interested in you could always print it, or use it as a tool to shop around for good books.

Whether the price is right, well, that's really up to how much money you have, but I'd say that books24x7 is much more convenient and thorough than most sources you'd find by searching.

(N.B. I have no affilation with, I just like their service)

Re:Books (1)

miniver (1839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8908450)

I have a subscription through work. While the selection of content is ok, the books themselves can leave a lot to be desired. For starters, they only have deals with certain publishers (not surprisingly, O'Reilly is not on the list). Often the books are out of date, or just not that good in the first place.

A bigger problem is the web interface -- for most books you only get to read a couple of paragraphs before you have to advance the page. I want to be able to read an entire chapter at one shot -- paragraph-at-a-time just takes too long. The biggest problem though is that I do the majority of my reading offline (even if its just kicking back in my chair for a few minutes) -- reading is my break from staring at a screen.

So for me, (or Safari for that matter) just doesn't cut it.

Institution (1)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886063)

My workplace subscribes to SciSearch [] and I find it indispensible.

Being able to do keyword searches through titles and abstracts of articles from decades past has really been a boon to researchers.

It's unfortunate that the information is not freely available.

It would also be great if the full texts of old works were put online so searches in the bodies of these old papers were possible.

I won't read extensively on the screen; I'd need a handheld, lightweight, portable, bright, better than 300 dpi, at least 30 cm screen before I'd read online for extended periods.

Now, what's great is downloading and dumping PDF's to my printer.

It sure beats wandering around the periodical stacks and photocopying...

Have you noticed? Libraries are a lot more deserted than they used to be before the Web exploded.

Safari is outrageously useful. (1)

chrisd (1457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886150)

From experience, and yes I know how to use google, Safari is outrageously useful. Go do a trial of it if you like and try it on. If every technical topic had a, then that would be great, but they don't, so we have safari. I probably visit it 3 times a week on average.

Chris DiBona

books24x7 vs safari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8886185)

The online tech libraries sound like a nice completement to google for learning new stuff. Has anybody compared the books24x7 vs Safari libraries? What were the pros and cons of each?


I couldn't live without safari (1)

eyeball (17206) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886205)

Since I signed on with safari about a year ago, I haven't bought a single paper book. Before that I was easily spending $500/year. Now it's down to $20/month, or $240/year, half what I was spending before.

There's a few titles I keep in my shelf at all times -- Programming Perl, Java in a Nutshell. Those I will upgrade when new editions come out. I rotate others as necessary (i.e.: one month I find myself using LDAP at work a lot. A few months later, it's Objective C). It works out great for me since I use such a wide selection of technologies.

Granted it might be difficult to read an entire book online, but I personally never read an entire computer book cover-to-cover. The closest I've come is skimming books (paper and electronic versions), trying out sample programs.

One incredible feature is the ability to search through the text of the book. It's so much more detailed than relying on the book's index. For example, if I happened to know one example in a LDAP book used connection timeout, but 'timeout' wasn't in the index. Searching would find it.

NetLibrary (1)

joeljkp (254783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8886327)

My school has a subscription to NetLibrary. I use it sometimes to look up certain things, but whenever I've tried reading an entire book on there, I've given up in short order. Having the physical thing in front of me is just so much easier.

Value (1)

daigu (111684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8887455)

I do research and buy databases of content for a living. I use "online libraries" every day more times than I can count. For many of the databases I use, I have monthly charges in the thousands. A database that is only $400/year is cheap and I woudn't think twice in most circumstnaces about buying it. I have something I buy in print that costs that much - just so I can answer one question that is asked once or twice a year.

Try going to something like [] . Most of the reports in there are at least $400. However, those reports are syndicated research studies and not tech books - so you expect them to cost a lot.

The question isn't whether electronic "online libraries" are better than paper books. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't - and how you determine whether they are or not is based on the value of the content, your needs, availability of alteratives, convenience, usability, etc. The question is really about value - is the content worth it given the audience and the factors listed above?

I wouldn't pay $400 dollars a seat per year for a database of technical books to help programmers. Even though I would be the one to do so if anyone would in my company. From my perspective, the value just isn't there.

I might think about it if the content were good and it were offered on a site license basis, say to all of my IT department of a couple hundred for $5000 a year and if my IT people thought it was worth it after a trial. I'd then get it for a year, market the resource and make sure I could get usage statistics to see how it is being used. Then, I'd negotiate the price or cut the resource based on the response.

Per seat licensing models are almost always either people with a new product that haven't figured out how to sell it or people that know that have something you can't get anywhere else so they charge a premium. I'd have to check to see what the content looks like, but I'd bet that this guy is going to change his business model or go out of business - fast.

We have paid for Safari (1)

mpechner (637217) | more than 10 years ago | (#8887623)

As I find it hard to get good information from a google search without a lot of work, I do prefer books.

The problem is that you can't own all the books and can't just drive to a computer book store at any moment.

Being able to search and have it go through all the books a service has instead of all the useless newgroups is well worth the money.

Knowing that for $270 per seat having access to search all those books is great. Our initial test of 5 engineers for the last year worked out well.

books24x7 via ieee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8889804)

I am an and member, and they have free access to books24x7 if you want to try it out. Additionally you can search the other two pay levels ($100 and $200 I think) to see if there are any other books you would want to pay for. I haven't used it much so far, but it seems OK to me. I don't buy many computer books anyway though, since many resources are available online. If you are an IEEE Computer Society member, you should probably check out the free service first.

FREE!??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8902711)

Am I missing something?

Here, in the UK, public libraries are free. so, why are electronic libraries also not free (as near as damn it)?

I appreciate there are running/staffing and maintenance costs, but this could easily be paid as a one off $10 fee or something.

We have the technology - using DRM, you can ensure that only as many books as the library physcially posseses are checked out at a time, and using time based encryption, these can automatically "expire" to return them.

Why isn't this being done!?
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