I'm a Safari Books subscriber and have been for years. I like having all the books available immediately. I was wondering if there was a better competing service. Does anyone know if there's another comparable service that maybe has a better search function (my frustration with which is what prompted me to ask this in the first place...)?


I've been a subscriber to the unlimited version of Safari Books Online since it was first offered. Since Safari is owned by O'Reilly, virtually all of their books are available which is a big plus for me as I had been a fan of O'Reilly's print books. It comes as no big surprise that none of O'Reilly's books appear to be available on books24x7.

As Jeremy mentioned, doing searches on the same keyword on both sites returns roughly the same number of books, so books24x7 apparently has some additional publisher(s) to make up for the omission of the O'Reilly titles.

Another thing I like about Safari Books Online is their token system, which allows you to download either chapters or entire books as PDF files. A chapter typically costs one token. You get five free tokens each month as part of the unlimited and "10-slot" subscriptions. You can buy additional ones for two dollars apiece. I don't know if books24x7 has a similar system.

O'Reilly's unlimited subscription and books24x7 both cost about $500 a year, so that is a wash.

  • books24x7 does have a similiar system where you can download chapters. but I'm pretty sure you can't download an entire book, unless you did chapter by chapter. there's also a mobile interface for books24x7 – Ashley Grenon Oct 18 '11 at 19:32
  • There's a mobile interface for safari, too, but it doesn't work with all books. Sounds like the options are books24x7 or Safari. I love that all the O'Reilly books are on Safari. That alone pushes me their way. Wish there was a service with better search, though. Definite opportunity there for improvement. – Tim Coker Oct 18 '11 at 20:04
  • ACM memberships ($100 per year) include access to selected titles from Safari Books Online and bookx24x7. – M. Dudley Feb 11 '13 at 19:11
  • @tcrosley Do you know if the safari tokens get expired, do they get added to the tokens given for next year or if unused they are gone for ever? – Geek Aug 4 '13 at 10:23
  • @Geek Tokens expire in six months -- if they have not been used by then they are gone forever. When you use tokens, they always use the oldest ones first. Unused tokens awarded in July or later will roll over to the next year, but still expire six months after they were awarded. – tcrosley Aug 5 '13 at 0:32

I've used books24x7.com for a long time, but I don't think its that great at searching either. I did searches of the same keywords in both sites and the search results look pretty similar.


There's also Creative Edge creativeedge.com, but searching wouldn't be any different from Safari Books because Creative Edge is also an O'Reily site. The main differences are the subscription rates and content. Depending on what you're programming, Creative Edge might be a cheaper solution, since the unlimited option is closer to $20/mo. There aren't any download tokens and it's geared toward Creative work, as the name implies. A search for something like "comptia a+" or pmap ps wouldn't get you very far, but more general topics like C++ coding, HTML and django will get you a number of hits.

As for the searching, one thing you can try would be to use a third party search engine to do a site search, i.e., plug site:safaribooksonline.com pmap ps into Google. Other search engines like Yahoo, Bing! or Yandex will give you far fewer results than Google for the O'Reily sites, so it's probably a promotional deal with Google to generate page previews to potential subscribers.

Plugging the ISBN into Google Books and doing a search from the book preview can also be helpful.

World Cat is good for locating other editions of books when you can't find them on Safari, but it's not so great for the whole reading instantly thing.

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