O'Reilly colleague Mike Hendrickson recently posted this summary of the computer book market at the midyear point. The overall results are disappointing though hardly surprising. The image below pretty much sums things up...if you click on it you'll see the red line is 2009 to date and sits below every other year on the grid.
Although the first six months have been rough I'm optimistic about the prospects for the rest of the year, particularly for O'Reilly. We've had a number of new hits recently including The Geek Atlas, The Twitter Book and Cloud Application Architectures. We also continue to experiment regularly on non-print platforms, especially the iPhone (note the previous link is to iTunes). One of our goals is to make sure our content is available in whatever format the customer needs it in. That's why we offer our products in DRM-free ebook bundles off our website, for example.
Then there's the ongoing diversification of O'Reilly into areas like conferences and webcasts, just a couple of the areas our competitors typically don't venture into. In fact, I recently returned from OSCON 2009 and was blown away by the scope of topics covered and the quality of the presentations, many of which were made by O'Reilly authors.
So while the information Mike presents in that post is sobering, it's important to keep an eye on the future. We've got a terrific list of publications coming through the balance of 2009 and are also well-positioned for the economic recovery everyone is talking about in 2010.