Professionals and students all over the country often need access to technology books for reference and research. Safari Books Online has provided a serious database for that very purpose. Technology, scholars, and IT and management professionals can search for answers to questions that are relevant to their mission. Contrary to running to the library, buying dozens of volumes, or locating a stack of books in some back room, access is instant. Not only are books and journals available, but videos can be viewed as well. The cost savings over buying books can be significant for institutions, but not so much for individuals. However, the main advantages are breadth of resources and convenience.
Safari Books Online's library of books and videos now numbers upwards of 24,000. They have a detailed and powerful search program to help you find just what you need. The product feature page has eleven detailed demo videos to help people learn how to use the library. They offer good tutorials for new users. To find books, subscribers can either use the search function, or browse the titles. The search box is at the top right of the Browse page.
Subscriptions are offered in a variety of formats, customized for users.
- Four types of user are targeted: Individual, Groups or Teams, Government Agencies, and Libraries.
- Subscriptions provide five free tokens per month. Each token allows the download of one chapter for users of the "10-Bookshelf" plan and one book for the "Safari Library" plan.
- Tokens have expiration dates.
- This usage plan is detailed here.
- Subscribers get a 35% discount on any print books they purchase.
There are plenty of training videos on the company's product features page. Here is one example:
Safari Books Online offers mobile services. Safari to Go is the name of their mobile app. Safari To Go for IOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad can be accessed at the App Store. Here is a video demonstration of Safari to Go for iPad:
Safari To Go for Android devices is found at Google Play. Here is a demo video for Android products:
Both mobile apps are free to download and install. In lieu of using the specific app, users of mobile devices can access the mobile site optimized for such units.
(These videos are taken from Safari Books Online's YouTube channel, where interested persons can learn much about the use of the service.)
Safari Books Online was founded in 2001 by the merger of two companies: O’Reilly Media, Inc. and Pearson Education. They were the two most prominent publishers of technology materials at that time. The goals were to make access to technical publications easy and quick as possible, and to develop a huge repository of those publications in one spot.
Publishing partners now number over 100, which indicates a robust expansion since the founding of the company. This means over 85% of the world's leading tech publishers have joined forces here. The corporate headquarters for Safari Books Online is in Sebastopol, California. They also have a contact in India and another in Germany.
Keep in mind that this company has no relationship to Apple's Safari web browser.
One reviewer labels this service as "Netflix for books". That is an apt description. According to his review, books occasionally show up on Safari Books Online before they are even in print yet. Some consumers complain about the search function, although Safari Books Online presents it as very detailed and strong.
Comments such as "I wish there was a service with better search" and "Does anyone know if there's another comparable service that maybe has a better search function?" are indicative that some consumers feel it needs improvement. However, Erez Zukerman of PC World disagrees in his review: "The search feature is well thought out, and is one of the best parts of using Safari Books Online." (Note that this review mentions a third subscription option, a 5-slot bookshelf. That plan has since been discontinued.)
Regarding the amount of publications available, PC World says "The catalog of books offered can only be described as staggering." The same reviewer considers the price for the Unlimited Plan to be a steep one, and recommends its use only if a person buys more than two new computer books every month.
This reviewer likes the fact that bookmarks and notes can be added to the publications you access. The review was published in February 2010, and the number of titles then was 11,000. Therefore, the titles have doubled in about three years as this is being written.
Here are a couple of customer testimonials from Safari Online's Testimonials page:
- "Safari Books Online gives me the best value for access to the kind of vital technical information that allows me to keep a highly marketable skillset."
- 'Safari Books have been invaluable in training and troubleshooting as our technology progressed over the years. I look forward to another 10 years.'
- "Our employees use Safari books and videos to support both just-in-time and formal learning."
Consumers like the free (up to five monthly) token function that Safari Books Online has, which enables download of chapters or whole books, depending on the subscription level. This allows them to print PDF's and read in some format other than a browser.
Overall, Safari Books Online is popular and well-used, with quibbles by some on the search function and by others on the cost. Convenience, speed, and marvelous access are the positive points for users.
Safari Books Online does not have a rating with Better Business Bureau. A quick survey of USA Today, CNN, and NBC yielded no news items about the company. They seem to be under the radar with respect to national news organizations, probably because the service is so focused and specialized.
In January of 2012, Brandon Hall Group Technology Excellence Awards gave Safari Books Online a bronze prize in the category of Mobile Learning Technology. The company won an award in 2012 from Codie Awards for Best Consumer Information Resource. The CODiE Awards program recognizes excellence in business software, digital content, and education technology. Blue Drop Awards, based on community-nominated, community-voted rankings, publicly recognizes individuals, companies and projects for excellent use of Drupal, which is an open-source content management application. Safari Books Online won Blue Drop's award for the Best Marketplace Website Built With Drupal.
Fifteen million users access Safari Books Online and use it for training and resources. That figure speaks of strong usage. Here are some website usage rankings:
- Alexa: Alexa traffic rank 7121 / traffic rank in US 4393 / sites linking 3053
- Google PageRank: 6/10
- Ranking.com: 10,234
- Compete: Unique visitors 105,903 / rank by unique visitors 18,147 / competitive rank #4
Safari Books Online is active in the social media world.
- On Twitter they have 1709 Tweets and 6943 Followers.
- The company has 7625 Likes on Facebook. It is moderately to lightly used.
- Safari's LinkedIn group has 1618 members.
- Safari Books Online has a blog. There were 15 posts in December 2012, 8 in November 2012, and 19 in October 2012.
- Those who want an RSS feed can get it here.
- Safari Books Online has no Google+ presence.
Safe browsing is an increasing concern for users of the Net. As you can see here, when a person wants to subscribe to Safari Books Online, the page uses a secure connection. According to Google's safebrowsing diagnostic tool, Safari Books Online is safe and clean. No malicious software or sketchy uses have been detected.
For those who want to test the waters, a 10-Day Free Trial is offered, which should be enough for most people to get a good feel of the service. The trial gives you full access to all features for a healthy try-before-you-buy experience.
Subscriptions are offered to individuals, organizations and teams, government agencies, and academic and public libraries.
- Individuals have two options: the "10-Slot Bookshelf" for $19.99 a month for the first six months, or $299 per year paid annually; or the "Safari Library" for $42.99 per month or $472.89 annually.
- Organizations and Teams consisting of 2 - 25 people can sign up for a Multi-User Account for an annual subscription of $299 per person for the "10-Slot Bookshelf" or the "Safari Library" for $472.89 annually for each person.
- There is no price break for multiple users compared to an individual subscription.
- Five download tokens per month are free. However, those who want additional tokens can pay $2.00 each to obtain more.
- Government agencies can participate. Prices are not listed for them, but they are asked to turn in a Request for Information.
- The same procedure applies to Academic & Public Libraries. No prices are listed. Libraries need to submit a Request for Information.
- Subscriptions let you read online. If you want to download items, there is an extra charge.
Since Safari Books Online provides strictly electronic data, there are not shipping charges, as there is nothing to ship. Users can view books and articles via a browser, or by downloading PDF documents. They can also get a 35% discount when ordering print publications, but these are not ordered directly from the service. In fact, no information is provided on the company's site for how to order a book or to apply the discount. The below average rating on this category is due to the fact that no information about ordering publications is available other than the fact a 35% discount applies to subscribers.
Users pay for their subscriptions online. They accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, EuroCard, and VISA Electron, which is a debit card service. Privacy is guaranteed by TRUSTe. These are the only options shown on Safari Books Online's order page. There is no mention of PayPal, the most popular third-party payment system, nor of any other means than direct payment via a credit or debit card.
The primary guarantees are that you can have a ten-day free trial, and that you can cancel anytime. Since no physical items can be ordered from Safari Books Online, there would be nothing to return or exchange. Subscription accounts can be cancelled anytime, and Safari Books Online will issue a prorated refund of the original payment. No problems have been reported with regard to refunds.
You may upgrade or downgrade your subscription whenever you desire, or change to a different subscription. If a person wants more than one subscription (individual and team, for example) they have to be ordered under two different email addresses. Safari's account management page gives further detail.
Best Available Safari Bookshelf Coupon: