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O’Reilly Media buys out partner in Safari online books venture

  • User experience designer Amy Woods scrolls through the Safari Books Online website during a team meeting at the Safari Books Online headquarters in Sebastopol, California on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

O’Reilly Media Inc. has reacquired full ownership of its e-book subscription business, bringing it back in-house 14 years after it launched the service.

The Sebastopol-based company announced this week that it bought out Pearson Education’s 50 percent stake in Safari Books Online, which offers more than 25,000 online videos, books and courses on business and technology issues.

O’Reilly debuted the service in July 2000, then re-launched it a year later with Pearson Technology Group. At the time, Pearson was its biggest competitor, CEO Tim O’Reilly noted in a blog post, but he felt that it was more important to develop an industry platform based on a subscription service.

Financial terms were not disclosed. In a statement, the company said the sale would not change its operation as an independent entity nor its products or staffing. Safari has offices in Sebastopol, where it employs 41 people, and Boston.

“O’Reilly believes strongly in the direction Safari is heading, and we came to believe that there are substantial opportunities for both organizations working much more closely together,” O’Reilly wrote in his blog post.

Safari has more than 1 million active users. Unlimited access for the service costs about $400 annually.

Most commonly known as a computer book publisher, O’Reilly Media was an early advocate of the Internet and created the first commercial website, which was later sold to AOL. Founder and CEO Tim O’Reilly is a noted tech evangelist and proponent of open-source software and a more interactive and collaborative Internet.

Safari CEO Andrew Savikas said in his own blog post that the e-book subscription service can grow by leveraging O’Reilly’s expertise in events, business and expert networks.

“Deepening our relationship with O’Reilly gives us the chance to do even more to connect people and organizations with the best content and the brightest minds,” Savikas wrote in the post.

Pearson books will continue to remain available on the service.

The move toward its publishing roots follows a decision last year by O’Reilly Media to spin off its Make division, which publishes Make Magazine and organizes Maker Faires, into a new company.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.


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