Tim O'Reilly's series of posts on book sales are giving up lots of interesting data and trends from the Nielsen Bookscan's top 3,000 Computer Books report (means: all publishers not just O'Reilly sales, but US sales only).

Yesterday's post was no different in terms of juicy data. This is the 3-year programming language market share trend (my bold):

Programming Language market share trend in computer books

"I wrote yesterday about the rise of Ruby and Javascript, driven by the move towards Web 2.0 applications. Also worthy of note in these graphs is the long, slow decline of Java and C/C++, and the continuing rise in market share of C#. You can see how Ruby's sharp ascent follows the introduction of Rails, and that PHP's fortunes reversed before book sales showed that web developers in search of rapid development languages moved over to RoR (and Microsoft's ASP.Net suite of technologies.)"

From 'ASP.NET on a Roll' (Q106 vs. Q105 comparison):

"With all of the buzz about Ruby on Rails and AJAX, not a lot of people have noticed that Microsoft is making another really good run at the web development space. Based on book sales data, it looks like ASP.Net 2.0 is on fire, with ASP-related book sales up 53% since the same period a year ago, versus PHP, down 3%, and JSP, down 25%."

Of course, this data isn't the whole truth (for one thing: it's US only) and there are many more market research data points (vendor sales numbers, independent research, etc) to refer to other than this, but books sales data provides a very good indictor of trends to watch out for.

Here's some more highlights worth, er, highlighting:

From State of the Computer Book Market, Q206, Part 2: Category Winners and Losers

  • C# book sales continues to gain on Java, with a 49% unit sales increase compared to Java's 10% decrease.
  • Microsoft's new release of SQL Server has continued to drive significant book sales, with that market up 86%.
  • ASP.Net is also on a roll, with book sales up 61%.
  • Books on SQL continue to show strong growth, showing the increased importance of databases in today's applications.

Given my role in the Data Programmability team, the Database roll up numbers of particular interest to me (as is the Ruby / ASP.NET / PHP data above):

Database Treemap Q206

"Looking at the Database rollup, we again see the strength of SQL Server, the decline of Oracle book sales, and that while MySQL is still a much larger category than Postgres, Postgres is showing some curious strength"

From State of the Computer Book Market, Part 2 covering Q106 vs. Q105 data:

"The SQL server book market is now more than twice the size of the Oracle book market, 50% larger than the MySQL book market, and growing faster than either of them. In fact, both the Oracle and MySQL book markets shrank versus the same period a year ago, with Oracle feeling more of the pain, off 9% to MySQL's negative 2%. DB2 is even worse off, with book sales down 14%."

For much more of this type of info, check out a list of Tim's posts tagged 'Hard_Numbers'

(Note to Tim: apologies for copying large chunks here - but it's all too good not to! ;-)