Recently, I purchased an Apress Access subscription for $199.00. It's a pretty steep price for subscribing to a single publisher, but I bit the bullet for several reasons:

  • Apress publishes solid technical books, and seems to take more risk than other publishers (e.g. O'Reilly).
    • They published Peter Seibel's Practical Common Lisp, for example, back in 2005, when Lisp books were passé.
  • You can read e-books online for free (though the reader is not great).
  • You can buy an e-book to keep for $4.99.
    • E-books are available in PDF, which is not the case with Amazon.
  • They had a book I really wanted to read in that wasn't available on Amazon (yet), Edi Weitz's Common Lisp Recipes.

All of these are decent reasons for purchasing a subscription, but what convinced me most of all is an important lesson I've learned over the years:

  • Never be afraid to invest in yourself.

So, is an Apress subscription "worth it"? It really depends on what you do with it.

Financially speaking, if you're going to purchase and read at least four books per year, each costing on average $55 or so, and assuming you can't get them cheaper elsewhere, a subscription would save you money compared to purchasing directly.

If you're like me, however, you'll actually use the financial cost to your advantage. Having paid for a subscription, I'd feel guilty if I didn't make good use of it. Finding motivation is often difficult, and I find that financial guilt is a great one to get me to read a book and learn something.