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Bring back PDF ebooks!!

I am extremely surprised and disappointing that O'reilly has discontinued PDF ebooks.

I have a large collection of print O'reilly books, and I've also been a Safari subscriber for almost a year. Despite this, since being a Safari subscriber, I've purchased over 30 O'reilly PDF ebooks.

While I do really like Safari, seeing the content laid out in book format in the PDFs is indispensable especially when you own both a book and PDF copy and switch off between the two*. Additionally, for certain types of books (such as the Head First series) the layout of the PDF version is far far better than the Safari version. Lastly, PDFs are a pretty universally supported format that nearly every computer-like device can view - there are certain devices/situations where a PDF is much more convenient.

* It's not just about consistent page numbers, but also that there's a sort of mental continuity in seeing everything laid out exactly the same way.

I really thought the O'reilly philosophy was to make these books as accessible as possible (DRM-free PDFs, Kindle, etc), hence my total surprise that ebooks are now exclusively accessible through a proprietary subscription service. I do understand the push towards subscription oriented services but in most cases this is done in * conjunction * with a typical pay-once model (Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, etc) or at the very least the same product is offered through multiple channels (I can't buy a song on Spotify, but I can buy that same song on iTunes). Since O'reilly is the exclusive seller of O'reilly published PDFs, this is really cutting off an important way to experience the books.

tl;dr Please bring back the PDFs!! Had I know this was coming, I would have purchased a lot more PDF ebooks....
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  • Thank you for reaching out about the change and for sharing your feelings about it with us. I want to reassure you your purchased eBooks are and will remain in your account without a change. We would like to share with you a recent blog post regarding the change: https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/were-re...

    Please feel free to reach out to us at support@oreilly.com to keep the conversation going. Best, Liz
    • view 6 more comments
    • Liz - You didn't even address VKs concerns. VK (and by extension all of us here) want to be able to legally purchase DRM-free *well-formatted PDF* versions of your publications. You, and others representing O'Reilly Media, continue to ignore this feedback. Why? Why would you treat loyal, paying customers this way?

      Please address the real concerns and not repeating this tired marketing spiel.

      Regards.
    • Ditto!! Forcing users to use a service by removing one that was well liked is not bound to bode well. Simply dictating what your customers can and cannot do instead of providing and testing the alternative is a sure fire way of igniting dissent.
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  • I’m miffed
    2
    Totally agree with VK. Got in front of my computer today to discover the outrageous news that O'Reilly is discontinuing non-Safari sales. I'm a big consumer of O'Reilly books: I have over 100 of their print books on my shelf (no exaggeration). I've also bought quite a few ebooks and videos directly from the O'Reilly shop (though I vastly prefer print).

    There's already a (negative) buzz about this appearing in my local *NIX user group's mailing list. I expect the conversation to heat up in the next few days.

    From what I've read around the net, it seems that no one likes this change. Apathy maybe, but not warm fuzzies. As a mainly-print buyer myself, I won't be impacted too much, but it still inconveniences me in a few ways. Unlike many posts I've seen, I would never say "I'm boycotting O'Reilly!", because ORM is still the #1 best computer book publisher around. However, it does get me a bit down on a brand that I follow quite religiously. In fact, I can think of a single brand of any product I like more than O'Reilly. That said, I can unequivocally state that I will never buy a digital ORM product from Amazon and their evil DRM ecosystem.

    To keep this short, I'll just toss forth a few other quick thoughts:
    1. No PDF really sucks: on decent-sized screens all the other formats stink when there are figures / code / math.
    2. Losing ebook access for me I can tolerate -- I'll just buy print -- but I'll miss being able to buy videos (which I won't buy on Amazon).
    3. Safari is too costly for your average joe at home, even this average joe who is your prime target market: loves the brand and is a freelance developer by trade. Even worse for non-Americans after the effect of the overly-strong US$.
    4. I guess no more O'Reilly Humble Bundles?
    5. Can you put back in the "register print books" option in "my account": I really like to track my paper book purchases there. Why take it out?
    6. Why isn't this "get satisfaction" support forum linked to from the main O'Reilly site (that I can see). To get here I had to dig up some old bookmarks. Is this site now deprecated?
    7. Did ORM succumb to pressure/blowback from Amazon in offering a competing ebook shop?
    8. Tim, fire your new product / sales manager who made these inane decisions. Write the official explanation yourself rather than hiding behind Mr. Fomook.

    Finally, it would be wonderful if on your book product pages you could put back the print cover price, as I use that for my own comparison purposes when shopping for books. I see no reason why you can't continue to list the cover price as you did before. Just say "cover price" or "MSRP" or whatever. Your users will figure it out. Pretty please?
    • I was planning to buy a bunch of Ebooks on O'reilly in PDF format during the upcoming Day Against DRM : https://www.defectivebydesign.org/day... Event on July 9th,2017 when huge discounts are offered usually on DRM Free Books. But shockingly with this Decision that O'Reilly has made to no longer sell PDFs on their site and that too from various Publishers makes me totally Frustrated.
      I guess O'reilly is no longer the Proponent of DRM -Free Books. Amazon Kindle Format SUCKS , the desktop App is very user unfriendly and books are highly priced .

      Totally Frustrated with O'reilly's Decision to throw its loyal Customers under the Bus with this Decision.

      Also i do not want to Subscribe to Safari.

      PDF was the Best format for Books on O'reilly . Period. Sad to see it discontinued.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I'm quite disappointed about the loss of PDF books going forwards. PDF seems to be the only legible format (other than paper) for formatted code, pictures, or diagrams. HTML/Mobi/Epub are currently an afterthought with rasterized images and poor flow, as all of the written content is paper-first.

    Splitting the remaining sub-par formats across iBooks, Google Play, and Amazon only further prevents reading on the device of choice. I can't take my iBooks to my Windows machines or Android tablet. I can't get a code sample that flows properly.

    As O'Reilly is continuing to sell paper books, will there be a focus on improving digital layouts?
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  • I’m Disappointed and Upset
    2
    I don't understand why O'Reilly decided to sell Ebooks on Amazon. Amazon Kindle SUCKS and the books are very highly priced .I have bought other Books on Kindle Desktop App and I cannot view pages properly nor enlarge Images on my Kindle Desktop App. There are so many complaints from users but Amazon has never bothered to look into them. That is the Reason I always preferred your PDF versions (DRM Free) of the Ebooks and that too offered at great discounts .This was Terrible Decision on your part to not sell Ebooks on Oreilly anymore. I like the PDF format (DRM Free) which is flexible and easy to Navigate but now i cannot buy such books from your Store anymore. Besides your Store also offered Books from other Publishers . It was fantastic site for Technology Ebook lovers .But now all of this is just shattered . Also I don't want to subscribe to Safari.

    Atleast you could have waited till this Year end and informed us customers prior to this upcoming Change.

    Deeply Disappointed with this Decision.

    Sincerely,
    Prashant
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  • I’m disappointed and frustrated
    This is extremely disappointing. Please bring back DRM-free eBooks in both ePub and PDF format!
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  • 2
    Please bring back PDF ebooks! PDF is the most accessible format and for technical books at least the presentation of content is superior :(
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  • 2
    As an author and a customer I'd like to keep selling and buying my ebooks as pdfs please!
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  • 2
    I own dozens of OReilly PDFs. I don't want the style of the Safari App. I want the PDF typography and stile. I'm very disappointed. Please bring back the DRM-free pdfs.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I buy PDF and ePub books so I can read my books on any platform.

    I don't buy enough books to justify $US399 a year. I also don't think it's worth paying $US399 a year just to be able to access the books I regularly use. By selling through third parties like Amazon, I'll now be restricted to either using the Kindle app on platforms that support it (so if I want to read on my Sony Reader, tough luck), or no longer having access to the material.

    If this is about the money (it's always about the money), just stop selling us books half price, and I'll buy half as many books.
    • view 2 more comments
    • Hi Chris, the DRM-free PDFs offered from Google Play have extremely poor formatting. They are nothing like the PDFs offered by O'reilly. Take a look: https://twitter.com/martinkl/status/8...
    • BTW I don't think they ever sold books at half-price, their prices were clearly set keeping into account that most people would buy them at 50% (the full prices were absurd). They only really made a sale when they offered 60% (for purchases over 100$). I'm speaking in the past tense because I'm very unlikely to buy an O'Reilly book again, as long as the situation stays like this
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  • I’m frustrated
    2
    I buy PDF's with the sound knowledge that the book will always be in my control and available whenever I need them... free of the requirement of needing specific devices or on-line access.

    A Safari subscription is not an option and the PDF's available in the Google Play Store are terribly formatted, see https://twitter.com/martinkl/status/8...

    Please bring back sales of PDF books or make available the high quality PDF's through another bookstore/distributor please.
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  • I’m sad
    1
    I tried keeping an open mind, since I have gotten very happy with services like Spotify.

    ... but it didn't last long. Safari seems to be at least $400/year (yeah yeah 399). I found out Safari also needs to be connected for the full experience, no PDF downloads anymore?, trying to get offline versions - there is only a Safari Queue app for Android and iPhone.

    Since I have moved to Qubes OS, using Linux, this leaves me with - being online all the time to read, paying approx double what I use currently on books - happy buyer at reduced prices from newsletters, thank you. All while getting the option to read books offline on my phone screen :-(

    So yeah, have been very happy reader and buyer of OReilly books since early 1990s, but now I am "lost".

    To succeed I would need some better offline cache in Safari, or Safari Queue for Linux to be happy, and possibly a "Home user" with reduced price, and not the "Pro" $399/year price.
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  • I fail to see how "giving our customers the choice and convenience they expect" = "removing the possibility of buying correctly formatted DRM-Free PDFs days from the Int'l Day Against DRM".

    There's a strong disconnect between the statement and the actions. I used to look to O'Reilly first for technical books, to the point of not looking elsewhere if there was something good enough on O'Reilly.

    If Safari came with the option of "Max. X books per month" for a reduced price, with the possibility of offline reading in PDF format, I'd consider it. Otherwise, this is too expensive for the beginner who wants a good ebook to learn how to program.
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  • I’m frustrated
    1
    WHY DID OREILLY REMOVE THE ABILITY OF YOUR CUSTOMERS TO BUY EPUB EBOOKS FROM YOUR WEBSITE ?!?!?!?!

    I have bought almost 100 ebooks in EPUB format from the O'Reilly store because having the books in electronic form is incredibly convenient, and because I hate the vendor-lock-in of Kindle ebooks. Now you have apparently removed my ability to continue buying EPUB ebooks from the O'Reilly website. How does a business make such a drastic change that so negatively impacts customers' purchasing abilities?!!??

    If the reason for the change was to force your customers to rent books (i.e. Safari) instead of owning books, you will fail with me. I don't believe in paying an on-going rental fee to access books I want to own, and I will NEVER sign up for Safari. This leaves a really bad taste in my mouth, and I am hugely disappointed with O'Reilly.
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  • Thank you all for taking the time to reach out to us and share your feelings about the change. We have a public response to share with you:
    https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/the-mis...

    Thank you again, Best, Liz
    • "I regret that we didn’t get those arrangements in place in advance of this announcement."

      That does sound like the announcement was tied to a specific timeline (whether the end of a contract with a vendor or the upcoming Day Against DRM, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt). It also sounds like not all the "mitigating measures" were in place by the announcement date.

      Are you planning on a lower tier membership for Safari? I suggest the following possibilities:

      - access by type of content (books only without code or examples would be one)
      - limited functionalities (download 1 book per month)
      - limited access by subject matter
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  • I’m begging
    3
    Thanks to O'Reilly for continuing to monitor and respond to this thread. Not fun to be bashed (but somewhat deservedly, at a company level) all day.

    Besides my simple requests in my first response above that have nothing to do with selling ebooks, I just noticed one other thing you took away: user reviews. Huh? Why on earth do you need to disable reviews on your per-book pages? The reviews there were of a very high standard and quality compared to the semi-literate tripe you find on Amazon. I've even submitted a bunch myself, and now they're lost to time?

    Simple sane requests that one can have no logical argument against:
    1. Put the reviews back, and ability to add new ones.
    2. Put the print cover price back.
    3. Put the ability to register print books back.
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  • 2
    This is a decision that was made without the best interests of the customer in mind. There are a handful of other tech publishers who are still DRM-free. I've been a longtime O'Reilly customer, but I will turn to other publishers for my needs from now on.
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  • It was so great when O'Reilly had the books in PDF format, DRM free, as it allowed to add different annotations, comments, etc. just like in a print book. Not having this ability or reading them in Kindle format will be very limitting.
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  • I’m done
    2
    I can only add to the echoes of folks who are now without a DRM-free path for reading PDFs. Also the experience of purchasing books from Amazon / Google Play means when looking for an O'Reilly book on a topic I get books from other publishers (I'm sure the book on beekeeping is quite nice, but that's not what I'd like to read right now. Thank you Google).

    You've taken what was an A+ experience for non-Safari customers and traded it for a rental model that serves customers who already are on Safari. I'm not sure how many conversions you'll have to Safari but I doubt it will make up the difference.

    You've also cut off the upgrade path so I no longer have a reason to purchase the print book. Why would I do that when I'd either have to subscribe to the eBook version, or re-buy it on Google Play / Amazon? That's silly.

    Over the past few days Pragmatic Programmers and Manning have had coupons for their eBooks. I've purchased two of their books. I was at Barnes and Noble last weekend and leafed through some O'Reilly books. I didn't pick up any of them because I'm locked out of the eBook versions.

    You've also done a disservice to your authors by removing their voice from the conversation. How can I recommend their book to colleagues without saying "oh, you also need to subscribe to this service. It's only $40 a month. Just keep subscribing in order to read it. Hope you read fast!"? That's a huge barrier to entry, especially in areas where the cost of living is so high. So instead other authors will have their voices heard in the conversation. And since bookstores (outside of Amazon) don't tend to carry many technical books you've ceded their voices to other publishers who cheerfully keep their catalog available and ready for purchase.

    I wish you well on this path as I loved your books and courses in the past. But I see you hurting yourself in the long run and I can only stand by and watch. That's not a fun place to be, so I have to move on.
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  • 2
    I seriously hope authors reconsider O'Reilly as a publisher. The best outcome from this moronic move will be that authors move to other publishers who still sanely offer DRM-free ebooks in all relevant formats, including PDF, and enrich their ecosystem.

    I have always preferred purchasing directly from you, practically since you came out with DRM-free ebooks, because ebooks in all formats were available, and with much more rational pricing than say ebooks.com.

    I don't know who decided that proper PDFs were no longer necessary for people reading online -- more so for technical books -- which ya know, is what O'Reilly does, or why you think that subscription with no option to actually download to read on my platform of choice, offline, and in a standard ebook format is perfectly okay once you remove ebook purchasing capability.

    By the looks of it, going POD for Print has also reduced your paperbook quality... all in all, terrible and sad news. So basically, you actually are no longer a proper "book publisher". You've reinvented yourself, sure, to yet another "online digital platform".

    While I see the merits of Safari, but the downsides far outweigh the benefits -- both direct ebooks sales and a Safari-like model have a place, but for a 'publisher', removing the ebook option is amazingly stupid. I can only hope that your data makes this visible.
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  • I’m frustrated and angry,
    5
    O'Reilly is no longer listening to their honest customers! Please bring back DRM free PDF ebooks of high quality and high resolution content that one will be able to carry around without the enforcement of beeing online. Don't use proprietary and for professionals practically unuseable reader platforms like kindle. No printing, no print quality layouts, no download, no nothing, ...

    I've purchased O'Reilly ebooks for thousands of USD a year and in addition I'm also holding a Safari subscription. But if i really needed a book for business, I've always purchased the ebook PDF, too, because the Safari version of the corresponding book lacks offline availability, searchability, printability and reading speed because of the bad structuring and content resolution (typography, images, ...). Even no more download token.

    Very bad, O'Reilly. I definitely will not buy any more of theO'Reilly Kindle DRM crippled ebook stuff. Again, as other monopolists no longer do, you don't listen to your customers! It's a shame!
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  • I’m heartbroken
    1
    I found out about the shop's shutdown by chance from a web search. You didn't even send a mail to your costumers?? Neither before nor after the fact???

    You want to know why your sells dropped (if they really did)? You made a hell logging in and ordering to shop.oreilly.com for the last 2 years!
    With my normal configuration it was absolutely impossible to successfully login in the last year!
    Strangely enough now that you shut the shop down it is working again... I hope it will for long enough to finish downloading the hundreds of products I bought from you.

    If you really saw a drop in the sales one very possible explanation is that the current developers already bought most of the old books they were interested in.
    I my self, apart from the login problems, after 315 e-books (+ videos and learning paths) started to feel a lot less urged to buy stuff.
    Adding to that that I had finally got a Safari Subscription...
    So there's a good chance that there is a temporary "generational" hiatus.

    But I'm pretty sure the sales have nothing to do with this and you just changed your mind on drm. A dozen of hugely smaller publishers are able to run an electronic "distribution platform" and you can't?? It's either plain bullshit or complete stupidity and short-sightedness on your part. Safari was growing more yesterday? Oh, that *must* mean it will grow like this forever! There's no thing like market saturation, no...
    In a few years I hope you'll realize how much you've lost and get back to your steps.

    "Growth"... You're just stupid... or motherfuckers...

    I'm heartbroken.
    At least it gives more sense to the thousands of dollars I spent on your products (if I manage to download them before you shut everything down).
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  • I’m disappointed and frustrated
    2
    So, ORM: you are still publishing books, you still have the infrastructure to give access to the books I bought previously — but you are telling me that keeping the shop front is too costly??

    Oh, sure, a subscription model is rather convenient — how do you do the invoicing there, BTW? — but mostly so for the publisher.

    Disappointed.
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  • A couple of other possible explanations came to my mind:
    - Amazon paid/promised O'Reilly a shitload of cash to close the store because it was a threat to their e-books dominance (a sizeable dent in their current revenue but most of all a disturbing evidence that alternative e-books stores can exist and function)
    - Some book publishers paid/promised O'Reilly a shitload of cash because their successful drm-free store put pressure on them to stop using drm as well (and they're convinced that it couldn't work for them)

    A little conspiratorial, but I wouldn't be too surprised if it were really so.
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  • I’m frustrated
    2
    Extremely disappointed and frustrated about the decision to discontinue DRM-free PDF ebooks. The PDF is the only version that was the exact digital replica of the print book. I tried a Kindle version once and the experience was atrocious. Neither am I willing to pay for any kind of subscription service - I want to pay for a book once and own it forever. I have bought many O'Reilly ebooks over the years - way to alienate your most loyal customers.
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  • I’m Sad and frustrated
    2
    The key reason I became a loyal O’Reilly customer was the high quality of their print and PDF books — I have been a Safari customer but I was always buying my Beautiful PDF eBooks.

    This situation is a huge disappointment and a real shame...
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  • I’m frustrated
    1
    Just wanted to join the fray. I am also a Safari subscriber and value the opportunities of Safari a lot. However, it is NOT a replacement for being able to access book cross-(open)-platform AND be able to do handwriting annotations, scribbelings etc. in the text.
    I just want to be able to do what comes natural with a text book - and spontaneous annotations is an integral part of this. And by "spontaneous", I don't mean via a (virtual) keyboard, but the true, intuitive pen&paper experience.
    This experience is not reproducable with Safari as it is right now - and this is a huge impediment to real learning !
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  • I’m disapointed
    Hello,
    I am working in France where bying printed O'Reilly books could be a long journey. PDFs used to be a very good way to get instantly tuned about IT trends.

    I also loved the buy one PDF get one free on the O'Reilly account. Discount which disappeared with the transfert to Amazon.

    epubs might be acceptable for reading a novel on a e-book reader but are not suitable for technical books. Especially on a desktop computer...

    Would be a good idea to bring back PDFs and to sell them on another platforms than Amazon, Apple or Google.
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  • In addition to all of the concerns voiced above, PDFs are superior if you like to highlight an ebook as you read it. Without the ability to do that, I can't "actively learn" as I read. Now I go to Springer and Packt for technical ebooks in PDF format.
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  • 1
    I guess going by many Responses received from various Ebook Users above , i can conclude what a Stupid decision it was on part of Oreilly to not cater to such users properly and not informing them much ahead of time of the decision to terminate the sale of PDF Ebooks. My whining here is of no use now since Oreilly has already taken this harsh decision. Not sure if they will ever plan to include PDFs as part of Subscription Plan as they had promised in this article:
    https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/the-mis...
    "And we also listen. 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. I regret that we didn’t get those arrangements in place in advance of this announcement."

    Not sure when but hoping i will see this when i am on my Deathbed atleast.
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  • Yes, PDFs please.
    PDFs give me the chance to read books offline (yes, there *are* times and places where there is no internet connection) and have multiple books with me (on my tablet).
    I like to "own" a PDF.
    I like to buy a single ebook.
    I like bargain buys.
    Currently I do not want to spend $400 per year.
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  • I am currently reading great o'reilly book "Fluent Python" in pdf format. I've bought it several months ago. But with o'reilly decision to stop selling pdf versions I've stopped buying from this publisher. I hope this decision is going to hit o'reilly financially in the long run. Like it often happens to companies that think they can care more about their pockets then about their customers. Caring about customers is the way to make your pockets full. I hope that o'reilly might change it's mind and bring back pdf books. If not through their website then through some other seller.
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  • I’m confident
    1
    No biggie. Fortunately there are other options:

    * Manning Publishing https://www.manning.com/
    * Leanpub https://leanpub.com/
    * Packt Publishing https://www.packtpub.com/
    * InformIT http://www.informit.com
    * eBooks.com https://www.ebooks.com
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  • 1
    I wanted to buy Aurelien Geron's Machine Learning book, but pdf format is the only one viable for me. I am a busy professional, I move around the world a lot and I cannot stockpile paper books. Kindle is not an option, that format is only usable for novels and not for technical books.
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  • 1
    I'm done buying O'Reilly books now. I'm going to make sure to tell anyone who asks me for suggestions to avoid O'Reilly books. Only reason I bought O'Reilly was bc I was able to have an ebook version for when I didn't want to carry around the book.
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  • I was looking forward of buying a rails 4 book to read on the plane but there's no point in buying a 399$/year subscription. Guess I'll have to go with Kindle on Linux.
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  • I’m frustrated
    Dear "https://www.oreilly.com/people/john-f..." I would like to spend some money to have epub and pdf copies of:

    Kubernetes Cookbook (bought and liked Docker Cookbook)
    Ansible: Up and Running, 2nd Edition (bought the 1st ed)
    Modern Linux Administration
    OpenStack Bootcamp

    but Amazon does not provide them and I don't need 90% of the books in Safari.

    Any suggestion?
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