New Adventures in Tech Publishing, or, “O’Reilly and Microsoft Press, Together? What’s Going on Here?”

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Steve Weiss here, from O’Reilly Media. When the O’Reilly Media and Microsoft Press strategic alliance was announced in September, the overwhelming reaction we received was positive, although peppered with a bit of curiosity, some of which we also heard directly from more cynical folk. Take that scene quoted above from *Ghostbusters* and substitute “The tech publishing industry” for “This city”, and you’ll get the gist of it: “Sheesh, if Microsoft and O’Reilly are throwing in together, it must mean the end of computer book publishing as we know it…. It’s just a desperate trick to survive in a terminal market.”

In a sense it *is* the end of a world as we know it: old-school computer book publishing (much like mainstream publishing) has been in non-growth mode for the past few years, but only for print books; there’s certainly been no waning market for information, for learning resources based around technology. At O’Reilly we’ve known this was coming, and have been building an infrastructure for online distribution of content for several years. We don’t really believe print books are going away entirely, but we fully realize that technology users—end-users and digital tech professionals alike—are happy to use whatever means are at hand to get the solutions, advice, and entertainment they need: Online search, iPhones/iTunes and other smartphones, community sites, eBook readers, YouTube are all in play here; if you’re a publisher, you can either ignore them (or fight them) or embrace them. Only one option allows you to continue being a publisher.

So back to the dogs and cats living together: How could O’Reilly, the champion of open source ethos, come to lock elbows in commerce with Microsoft Press? You probably know the answer to this already: Not only did Microsoft appreciate O’Reilly’s sense of quality and dedication to fully serving the communities we live in, but they liked our leadership position in the tech publishing community when it comes to publishing electronic content. Take that, cynics.

Since the alliance went live on Dec 1, we’ve released over 200 Microsoft Press titles in eBook format, all DRM-free. This is ongoing: We started with the most recent releases first, and are working our way through the backlist. Here’s more info:

We’ve also just announced an offer worthy of, if not Armageddon, then at least a demented weekend in New York City: For the holidays—starting right now—you can get any Microsoft Press print book for 40% off, and any Microsoft Press eBook for half off. (Use code MSINT in the shopping cart to get your savings.) The great thing is, you buy the eBook once, but you get it in four formats: ePub, PDF, Mobi and Android. Wrath of God my eye; this is the kind of mass hysteria we need more of.

I should add that the whole adversarial thing breaks down even further when you consider the personnel behind the scenes: O’Reilly people working tightly with Microsoft people for the past several months has been a rich experience. It’s been an absolute pleasure to get to know the publishing professionals at Microsoft Press, who have a reputation as the tops in the industry. As such, it’s been an honor to gain their trust as we begin working in earnest together to continue publishing—in many formats—many of the best technology experts in the world. You’ll continue to see the same great Microsoft authors and series, as well as some new stuff, in print, and in other manifestations. Dogs and cats living together, what’s not to like? Hey, is that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? He looks delicious.


Steve Weiss, Associate Publisher, O'Reilly Media/Microsoft Press Division

steve [at]

Twitter: @steveweiss

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