Jul 31

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Ruby Book Sales Pass Perl

A few months ago, I wrote Ruby Book Sales Pass Python. Well, in his talk at OSCON on Friday, Roger Magoulas, the director of O'Reilly Research, revealed that they've now passed sales for Perl books as well. Here's his graph (click on it to pop up a larger image):

Programming Language Trends

As described in my posting Book Sales as a Technology Trend Indicator, data is from Nielsen Bookscan's point of sale reporting on sell-through of the top 3000 computer books, which we've put into our research data mart.

Just to be clear, though, we've got the data organized in several dimensions. One dimension is based on the primary topic category of the book. In this dimension, books on the Ruby language and books on Ruby on Rails are in different categories. Another dimension is based on the programming language used in the book. In this dimension, Ruby and Rails appear in the same grouping. It's this latter dimension that Roger was graphing when he shows the relative market share of Ruby and Perl books.

This same fact should be kept in mind when looking at the huge spike in the sales of Javascript books. A large part of this spike is in books on AJAX, not just the Javascript language. See my recent post, State of the Computer Book Market: Category Winners and Losers, for more information.

Keep in mind also that sales of Ruby and Ajax books are driven by recency. We could certainly see a reversal when Perl 6 comes out. And in the job market, which trails the book market considerably, we see that while Ruby is the only programming language with an increase in job postings (shown by the bright green in the treemap below), it is still considerably smaller than the job market for Perl or Python:

Programming Language Job Market treemap

(As always, red is down, green is up, and black is unchanged, with the intensity of the color showing the extent of the change. For more background on the source of our jobs data, see Startup Centers. Here we're showing the count of job postings calling for various programming languages during this past month, compared with the same month a year ago.)

However, keep in mind that the total number of jobs changes over time, both seasonally and as a result of economic upturns or downturns. In addition, the data sources we're spidering may change the number of jobs they list. As a result, we peg the total number of jobs at the start of the study, and show the change from that baseline. Here's the change in jobs during the period of the study, with the baseline in June of 2005 shown as a value of 100.


When you use this baseline data to adjust the jobs treemap, you see that the changes are even more striking. The adjusted totals of jobs calling for programming skills (as a percentage of all jobs) is down across the board, except for Ruby.

In this latter treemap, I also show some of the other job categories we're tracking (the programming languages are in the upper left block). You'll see that the other categories showing a strong increase include Web 2.0 and AJAX.

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Comments: 7

  Vidar [08.01.06 05:26 AM]

Maybe they need more books since the documentation is so poor... *ducks for cover*

  adamsj [08.01.06 07:23 AM]


Are you suggesting that people who buy Perl books are suckers?

  Vidar [08.01.06 11:51 AM]

It was just a small joke. Perl, Ruby and Python are in my mind roughly equal (emphasis on roughly!) and I was merely wondering if book sales are a good indicator of language popularity.

  adamsj [08.02.06 07:21 AM]

A small joke on my part, too, though I do think Perl's documentation is a cut above most open source documentation. Still, that's not a complaint about Ruby's--I'm finding it both useful and useable.

  adamsj [08.02.06 07:25 AM]

A small joke on my part, too, though I do think Perl's documentation really is a cut above most open source documentation. That's not a complaint about Ruby's, though--I'm finding it both useable and useful.`

  Ilya [08.02.06 10:27 PM]

Note: JavaScript's trend correlate with Ruby (ajax?)

  pg [04.14.07 11:45 AM]

Perl simply has too much baggage, and not advance fast enough. Perl 6 is not going to save Perl, remember language itself is not so important,and what is reallyu important is the framework, for example ruby on rail. Perl is done with. Like an old prostitute.

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