Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

IIRC, O'Reilly was flat-out refusing to publish any Lisp books as recently as 2005. How things have changed. :)

Last I looked, their author proposal FAQ still has that exclusion.

FYI, a Common Lisp book nearly made it out of the gate a couple of years ago, Nick Levine's 'Lisp Out of the Box'. The contents of it are available under a Creative Commons license:


Looks like that exclusion is still there: http://oreilly.com/oreilly/author/writeforus_1101.html

It seems to be a strong recommendation rather than a hard rule, though. Clojure is worthy of an exception in my opinion.

Thanks for this! I took a look at the home page and have bookmarked the page.

I've been dabbling in Lisp (read Land of Lisp and am going through PCL) and eventually I'd like to create my own text-based game using common lisp. However, I am indeed wondering if/how it would make sense to use it at work.

I mostly do full stack web stuff (ruby/sinatra/rails, javascript) and I'm not at all sure where Lisp would fit in. In fact, I don't really know what it brings to the table except its expressiveness. As opposed to e.g. python, java, c, or objective-c where I have a decent idea of the domains where they shine.

I think you'll find Clojure to be superb in the web space. I've never been a ruby guy, but I did spend a lot of time with python in web dev, and Clojure compares very, very well IMO. In short, all the creature comforts of ruby/python + an efficient runtime + an unbeatable selection of libraries.

Thanks! This and the other comments in the thread are definitely motivating me to check out clojure. My dream of the moment is to make my command-line text-based game playable through a web front end and deployed to heroku using the clojure buildpack. I think that will give me at least, like, 5 geek points.

I actually wasn't aware of the 'clojure buildpack' until you mentioned it. All I've ever done to put Clojure/Ring apps on Heroku is add a one-line Procfile to my Leiningen project, and `git push heroku`. :-)

Just curious, does anyone know why O'Reilly would refuse to publish any Lisp books?

I guess they didn't consider the market for Lisp books very profitable:

»We're NOT looking for: (...) Books on topics that have dismal sales despite quality books being available. (If you're addressing a topic where good books have sold dismally in the past (for instance, LISP, LaTeX, or Web-based training), you have a much higher threshold to clear with your proposal. Convince us why there is a revival of interest in your topic, or why your approach to a deadly topic will provoke interest nonetheless.)« (from http://oreilly.com/oreilly/author/writeforus_1101.html)

However, in 2009 an O'Reilly editor wrote: »I think there's reason to believe that's changing, particularly with the right book; LISP awareness has been growing for the past couple of years. Our Haskell book has outsold expectations; Erlang has obviously made a comeback; so there has been a relatively recent shift in the language map.« (from http://lisp-book.org/talks/eclm-2011-10-23/plan.txt)

Because it takes some effort to write a good Lisp book. There are several very good books: SICP, PAIP, AMOP, On Lisp, PCL, LoL, ...

Also typical Lisp hacker won't buy a slightly edited and printed version of the HyperSpec or a printed version of the SBCL manual.

Add to that that Lisp made a deep dive after the AI winter and that they were sure to not sell enough copies. At that time it was also a good idea not to be connected to Lisp.

Plus, I guess they did not like Lisp. 'Clojure' has the 'advantage' not to use 'Lisp' in its name.

I suspect the answer is more simple than you make out. They will not publish what they are sure will not sell.


FWIW, we didn't go to O'Reilly; they were shopping around for someone to write a Clojure book. So, whatever guidelines they have out there probably shouldn't be taken as actual "policy".

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact