One of the things we've talked about recently in a local group where we meet to discuss developer-related issues on campus (frankly, one of the only professional developer groups in the area), is the issue of continued learning. And of the things that came out of the discussion was that of buying books. The problems with many technical books is that they are very expensive, and oftentimes out of date by the time they're published. Technology just moves too quickly.
For me, that's part of what I like about eBooks. They can be cheaper, updated over time (though major revisions still warrant new editions), and time to market can be a lot faster. Like Manning and their Early Access Program, where you can buy an unpublished book, and recieve updates as they arrive at Manning, only to get the final copy of the book once it's completed. Plus, with Manning, and this is the only tech publisher I know who does this, if you buy the book, you get the eBook for free. Amazing. The only downside to shopping Manning, is that their download system is archaic. Your download links are only good for a short period of time, so when a new version is released, you need to grab it quickly. Or go through the Customer Service desk, which takes time and is hassle enough you put it off until you flat forget. Not that the Manning people make it difficult, but more effort generally means a lower likelyhood of it getting done. Plus, Manning has been doing a lot of deals lately.
Enter O'Reilly, who are absolutely the elephant in the room when it comes to technology books. O'Reilly doesn't throw in eBooks with their paper books, but they do have the #EBook Deal of the Day program, where every day they offer a different eBook for $9.99, which has sometimes been as much as $30.00 off the list price. I'm fairly sure Tim O'Reilly has done this in an effort to bankrupt me, because the deal is usually way too enticing. What I love most about buying through O'Reilly, is their management interface is great. I can view a list of all the books I've bought, see which once have updates, and most of their books offer ePub in addition to the PDF version.
I love books, but I'm really wanting eBooks badly now. I have two bookshelves full of books, and still more in boxes. I'm overrun, and I keep wanting to read. Now, if I can just find an eBook reader with solid annotation and ePub support (I wasn't impressed with the Nook's annotation, in the brief time I spent playing with one), I'm golden.