1. For those books that support the HTML view, I've read them in the browser from the Safari Library web site. These have been excellent, including diagrams and code snippets. One or two books have had slight formatting problems (a line of example code not wrapping).
2. For books that don't support the HTML view, or books that I've downloaded as PDFs (part of the my subscription is a certain number of "download tokens" that can be redeemed to download chapters or whole books), I've read then in GoodReader. This has worked out fine.
3. Finally, they offer some books for download in EPub format. I've tried those in iBooks, and they've been good. I've also used the free program Calibre to convert some of the PDFs I downloaded to EPub and they have worked fine.
I am quite pleased with the combination of O'Reilly Safari Library and my iPad.
Oh, they've also announced that this summer there will be a Safari Library iPad application. That should be interesting.
There's a reason why people like e-ink-based ebook readers so much. They may not have games, but they are really good for reading ebooks. (Though I admit that the normal Kindle is not so great for books that have diagrams.)
I had also figured it would be fantastic to shrink the shelf space for tech books, and always have those books at hand. Big downside that doesn't hit you till you try to use it for this purpose: the e-ink can't page flip fast enough to be useful.
Readers on the iPad (iBooks, even Kindle app) don't have this issue.
I prefer e-readers (Sony Reader, Kindle DX, iPad) because I read at the speed of about one airport novel per hour, meaning I need five books for a cross country flight. It's easier to carry these electronically, and I keep a backlog of 50 - 70 books available to read.
For computer books, such as the jQuery Cookbook I purchased yesterday from O'Reilly in this sale, I will also read each one from cover to cover. With that reading I form a visual spatial memory of where in the book I can find any information I need.
My memory is not eidetic. I can't read the actual words, and I don't remember every page number. But I do know about how deep in the book, left or right page, and where on the page to look, so I can usually find a needed reference within a half dozen page turns.
With e-readers, this is fuzzier. The "where in the book" depends on the progress bar, and there's no left or right to halve the search, so takes at least 10 - 20 page turns instead. These page turns are SLOOOOOW.
On the iPad, page turns are many times faster. So, finding reference material in a thick reference book that I cognitively mapped on the iPad is commensurately faster.
I usually trip up on the "induct on n" part. Fortunately, I start enough books that I still finish a few each year.
I usually trip up on the "induct on n" part.
I find it a lot easier on my eyes than my Macbook Air, for reading, not sure why. But there it is.
Could it be because you spent $500 on it for the purpose of reading books, and your mind won't let you think negative thoughts about the experience?
I had a pair of pants like this. They were the wrong size, uncomfortable, and ugly. But I wore them anyway because it was too late to return them, and I spent $75 on them that I could never get back. So I just learned to like them, even though they were fundamentally flawed.
Though I must say I like my kindle enough that it is readable for normal books.
But there is just something about paper :)
[Disclosure: The below is an old HN post I made.]
The Social Life of Paper (2002) (newyorker.com)
P.S. I also subscribe to Safari. It's nice not to lug a bunch of books around, but the reading experience I do find different between the two media.