After signing up for Safari for a trial membership, I decided to go ahead keep it on a subscription basis. Well, not a week goes by and I have already filled up my bookshelf. You see, when you sign up you get to choose how big you want your bookshelf to be, the smallest being five bookshelves and the largest being thirty. If you "check out" a book, you must keep it on the bookshelf at least thirty days. That means if you have a five slot bookshelf, and you check out five books on the first day, it will be thirty more days until you can grab another one. It became pretty clear that a ten slot bookshelf just wasn't going to cut it for me, so I decided to go balls out and get the thirty slot bookshelf. Even I would be pressed to read thirty books in thirty days. I've managed to fill up 20 slots, but in a week a couple of my books should be available to be removed in case any new books become available that I'm interested in paging through.
So far the service is great. I'm reading all kinds of books I probably wouldn't have dropped $50 bucks to flip through in my spare time. Most of my bookshelf contains books on Linux, Oracle, Presentation Skills and stuff like that. But I've also picked up a couple of books that I've been meaning to pickup but economic restrictions have stiffled the ol' book buying fund. I recently added Inside Microsoft .NET IL Assembler and Mastering Visual Studio .NET. Both good .NET books that I wish I would have purchased months ago now that I've had a chance to sit down with them, but without Safari I probably would have missed out totally. Not to mention that I am personally saving any where between $200 and $400 a month on books (I like books).
But I do have a couple of complaints. First of all it seems browsing by category is in need of an overhaul. You certainly can read ASP.NET Data Web Controls Kick Start or Essential ASP.NET. You just won't find them in the .NET category. Even Essential .NET doesn't even make the cut for the .NET category. What I've been doing is just going through all their books in reverse order based on when they added the books. Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands.
My other complaint has to do with font sizes. I'm reading these suckers on a pretty big monitors with the resolution set pretty high for working in VS.NET. It would be nice if I could change the font size easily. There doesn't seem to be a setting for this, and it ignored the text size setting in IE. The solution, Mozilla Firebird. Firebird does increase the font sizes for you. I might make my own "safari reader" that overrides the built in CSS file for reading the documents.
The pros easily out weigh the cons though. Heck, in my pursuit of .NET books I might have missed I've ran across books that I would have never even thought to search for. The search feature is awesome, and pretty quick to boot through the books you've checked out, making find code snippets pretty darn easy . They seem to be adding 10-20 books a week. Although of the sixty four books they've added in the past month, only four have been .NET related. Well, the number swells to about eight if you include MSSQL and Win2k3. I'm not saying that .NET is being ignored, it is just a wide collection of books here.
I should also mention that through my work I have access to Books24x7.com, but I hardly access it. The UI is straight from 1994, and is pretty clunky to boot. I don't know if that's ElementK's (through which my work gains access) fault or Books24x7 though, so your mileage may vary.
Two last things. You can sign up via O'Reilly or InformIT. They appear to me to be the same service with a slightly different look. Infact, I was able to sign on with my account that I use on O'Reilly's site on the InformIT site. Both have the same books and pricing. The other thing I should mention is that they've got an RSS feed for their new books. SharpReader tends to choke on it, although it is a valid feed.
Ok, this is getting a tad bit too long. Note to self: Don't drink Mountain Dew and write at the same time.