Programming Python (e-?)books?

Programming Python (e-?) books? (< Planet LA still can’t get my titles right)

I have been thinking about how to automate some documentation related tasks for lawyers (well, just for one lawyer in particular).  The tasks are largely search and highlight within a document.  I’d assumed that there’d be a wealth of search and indexing solutions which would do this, but apparently there aren’t (or I can’t decipher them).  The solutions out there assume that you want to identify what document the search term is in.  However, I know which document it is in, I just want to know how it is used within the document.

I’m now considering doing a customised solution in Python – a language that I know nothing about (well, except for the 6-8 hours of programming I had at the end of last week).  I hate buying books on these topics because I invariably find I don’t actually use them, or use them very little.   Nevertheless I’m looking at buying one or more O’Reilly Python books, particularly Programming Python.  To get three books (learning, programming and cookbook) looks like it will cost about AUD$217 (inc. 2-5 business days’ shipping- roughly 33% of this is shipping).  To get the same three as pdfs will cost about AU$125, and to just get Programming Python as a pdf will cost $75.  Alternatively I could buy the dead tree versions from Dymocks here for… oh, about $300 (programming python = $125). (three books+ three pdfs + shipping = about $260)

Has anyone had any experience with O’Reilly pdfs?  Will a 1596 page pdf   be manageable?  Will I end up printing the whole thing out to use it anyway?  (maybe I’ll end up printing the particular sections i need when I need them?)

Update [more details here]:

I bought Programming Python Third Edition, Learning Python and Python Cookbook as ebooks (pdfs).  The pdf reader interface is at times annoying, but overall they have been a good buy.  Would have bought hard copies of all three, but freight was ridiculous.  Have also bought pocket reference as a hard copy.  Of these three I have used PP3E heaps and heaps, LP a bit, and PC never (despite looking in it regularly for hints).  The pocket reference would have been better as an ebook.  It doesn’t really have enough info to be useful most of the time.


4 Responses to “Programming Python (e-?)books?”

  1. 1 Malcolm Tredinnick 23 February 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Have you been particularly strongly recommended to “Learning Python” and “Programming Python”? I’m probably not well qualified for recommending books about learning Python (since I’ve been using it for over 11 years), but Dive Into Python gets good reviews and is available online (, as well as in paperback. So, even if you ultimately want to contribute to the author’s bank account, you could sample and then purchase later (and I notice a lot of Dymocks and Borders around Sydney carry Dive Into Python). I’m not saying the other two books are bad, mind you. More wondering how you arrived at that particular decision — if it’s from recommendations elsewhere, don’t let me stand in your way, I’ve forgotten what’s hard about learning Python. If it’s from random selection, maybe spend a little while browsing Mark Pilgrim’s book (Dive into Python) and see if that meets your needs.

    Python Cookbook is strongly recommended. It’s one of the very few programming books I regularly open and read and re-read for reminders and approaches to problems. You could probably get away with the PDF version of that, since only particular recipes will be directly appropriate at any given time and you could then print out small fragments (it really is in “cookbook” format, with small self-contained examples). For somebody wanting to learn Python for career purposes, I’d recommend the dead-tree version fo that book, as it’s a gift that keeps on giving. For your goals, the PDF version might well be appropriate.

  2. 2 brendanscott 23 February 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Malcolm

    My choice was largely based on the O’Reilly brand rather than anything else. I have had a look at the cookbook online. If I get more than one book, then I’d include the cookbook (although I think it or something similar is also available on Activestate?).

    Thanks for the input.

  3. 3 brendanscott 23 February 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Based on Malcolm’s suggestion I have now had a look at Dive Into Python and (based on a 30 second review) it looks pretty neat (including what apparently seems to be a directory of code examples (sweet).

    Especially likeable is the (capital F) Free licensing.

  1. 1 Python Books « Brendan Scott’s Weblog Trackback on 3 March 2009 at 9:45 pm

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