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iPhone & Mac Programming Books In Demand

Tech specialist publisher O’Reilly is reporting encouraging growth in iPhone (s aapl) and Mac programming book sales, despite an overall drop in computer book sales.

On the O’Reilly Radar blog, Mike Hendrickson analyzed figures from Nielsen Bookscan retail sales data. This is data collected in the U.S. from bookstores like Barnes & Noble (s bks) and Borders (s bgp), or online from Amazon (s amzn).

The Nielsen figures make for depressing reading, illustrating how the computer book market has seen a steady decline in sales since mid-2008. Hendrickson notes there are “few signs the book-buying slump is going to turn around anytime soon.” In total, the market saw more than half a million fewer units sold in the first half of 2009 than were sold in the same period last year (the red line in the graph below.)

O'Reilly Report - Computer Books 2009 First Half Unit Sales
O'Reilly Report - Computer Books 2009 First Half Unit Sales

Only eight subjects (from a list of over 100 categories) saw a year-on-year increase in sales by the end of the first half of 2009. “The market performance this year is the worst we’ve seen since the fall of 2001,” Hendrickson said.

Of the eight subjects showing improved year-on-year sales, “Mac Programming” tops the list, followed by “Objective C,” “Online Video,” “Global Position Device,” “Computerized Home” and “Mobile Programming.” However, all major categories have seen lower first-half sales for 2009. Interestingly, the biggest “loser” in the list is “Office Suites.” Also in that list; “Mac OS,” “Spreadsheets,” “Digital Photography” and “Windows Consumer.” The figures seem to mirror the recent sales decline seen in the computer market in general.

O'reilly Report - Categories
O'reilly Report - Categories

The report also claims that of all programming languages, Objective C has seen the biggest growth in sales, fueled by a feverish interest in iPhone and Mac development.

O'Reilly Report - Programming Languages
O'Reilly Report - Programming Languages

Hendrickson refers to the report as “…lots of bad news peppered with small glimmers of hope.” He adds that some of those glimmers include improved sales driven by the release of Windows 7 and major new versions of Sharepoint and Visual Studio due for release later this year. Also on the radar is Mac OS X Snow Leopard coming “soonish,” Hendrickson comments, bringing with it a “nice boost for computer book sales.”

3 Responses to “iPhone & Mac Programming Books In Demand”

  1. Kurtis

    Wow, the timing of this article could not be any better given that I just ordered two iphone/osx/obj-c programming books yesterday. As well as just finished reading Getting Real, by 37Signals.

    I can see why this would decline though, given that even in my University most professors don’t recommend buying the books for computer science courses. With the wealth of information online, it’s not that often that one finds themselves needing books on the subject.