Recently I wanted a to quickly lookup how to do something in sed. As I headed for the man page once again I wished I had a quick reference on hand, like the Perl Pocket Reference I have. In a slight diversion I did some searching to see if there was a pocket reference for sed, there is, and as a bonus it covers awk too.
Armed with the knowledge that the sed reference exists I searched for bookshops in Melbourne to buy it from. This is where it became difficult. No one had it in stock and even if they did it would take at least a whole day to arrive if I had ordered it right then. It was here that I wished there was a delivery service for technical books that could see them delivered with the promptness and low cost of a pizza delivery.
The need for a technical book, in particular those that are mainly reference material tends to come about with a need-it-now urgency to satisfy whatever the pressing enquiry is. Typically the desired information is available via online documentation or a simple Google search however I tend to prefer references to be in dead tree form and I don’t believe I’m alone in this.
Given the relatively huge lead time in actually getting a reference book delivered, the online documentation usually wins and the books remain unordered. I think if it were possible to have a book delivered within the CBD in an hour or so from ordering for a nominal fee many more books could be sold to satisfy the immediate need for the reference.
Now an hour is a long time to wait if you need to look something up now, but it would allow you to look up whatever it is you’re after online then for the rest of the day refer to your new reference that arrived a little later. So bookstores, pizza style delivery for technical books, who’s up for it?
On a side note, its extremely lame that the Australian Borders website doesn’t have the ability to search for books they stock.
Update 16 Oct 2009: Amazon have announced same day delivery. If I was living in the US this would be awesome.
Update 15 Mar 2010: Borders now have a searchable online store on their Australia website.