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In a previous Language Surprises, I pointed to some interesting statistics in the “tech Book” market – here with is the latest installment from Oreilly, with more food for thought.

Compared to last time

Last time, I noted that JavaScript, and SQL were running white   hot (well – fluorescent green actually) on the Treemap – this time round, JavaScript has cooled, but SQL (more specifically Transact SQL) is still surging.  Java and VB are still making staggering loses.  My interpretation of a Treemap is that, the bigger the existing market share, the larger the impact of a percentage swing so -36% for VB, and -14% for Java is a bit of lightning bolt.

Scripting Languages

Ruby is still motoring ahead, but Python is showing noticeable growth too – it seems that Python is starting to attract more interest – this maybe due to interest falling away in Perl quite sharply, and also a definite negative trend in PHP.

Whats of interest?

There is one other trend that piqued my interest, and that was an up trend for Haskell.  This not because I particularly see a use of Haskell for me, but because it points to the stirrings of interest in Concurrent Programming  Languages – in this area I’m going to look into  Erlang – which has it’s roots in the Telecommunications industry.

My Conclusion

While it would be presumptuous to say that book sales are a hard coded indicator of market share, I think that I could argue effectively that book sales reflect “Market Attention” – meaning that they resonate with the collective consciousness of where programmers see their present needs/demands, and their future requirements.

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4 Comments

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  1. Bharathwaj Ragothaman
    Hi ,

    It might be that , there are so many good online tutorials and sites .. or the whole api s are well documented in case of java or VB..
    If the documentation available online is extensive and exhaustive… Why wud ppl buy books.?

    just my piece of thought..

    Regards
    Bharathwaj

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    1. Piers Harding Post author
      You are correct – but I believe that the availability of online resources is part of the general decline of tech book sales, not the decline of any specific language.  Consider the the quantity and quality of the online resources available for Ruby or Ruby On Rails – these are exceptionally good, but the book sales keep going up.
      Cheers,
      Piers Harding.
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      1. Alvaro Tejada Galindo
        Looking at the webpage…It’s funny to see that Delphi and ADA are considered “Irrelevant programming languages” -:)

        One thing is weird…For example…Ruby was almost unknown until Rails came out…And also I think that Rails is suffering the Java sindrome…When Java first came out, all young programmers wanted to learn it…Know, all young programmers wants to learn Rails…

        I’m a Programming books writter (In Spanish) and my books selling is doing real good, but that’s because most of the online resources and books are written in English -;)

        Most of the time, people looks for programming languages that are easy to learn…Thanks good that’s not my case…I love the challenge…

        Greetings,

        Blag.

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  2. Adam Trickett
    It’s all very much swings and roundabouts. When CGI was young everyone wanted to learn Perl. The result was book shops of dreadful Perl books and lots of awfully insecure Perl CGI scripts. Time passes. PHP is supposed to be easier than Perl/CGI so it’s the new fad, and lots of dreadfully insecure PHP applications are created and every bookshop is awash with PHP.

    If you look at what’s really going on it’s very much different. Perl is still popular and active, it just doesn’t attract the great unwashed any more.

    Java was the buzz, but it’s taken a lot longer to mature and eat into the c++ market than it’s proponents every expected. c/c++ are still very strong in the real world.

    Books tend to be sold to people who need to know, so once everyone in a field knows it’s hard to sell more books. So lots of books probably means lots of new users who want to know – but that doesn’t mean much actual code is written.

    COBOL and ABAP appear on the list in the minor league, yet there are millions of lines of the stuff out there and more is added every day. They are hardly popular to write your club web site in, or to learn in first year computing classes…

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