Ruby Book Sales, A Retrospective

Joe Gregorio

Me in 2007:

You certainly heard when Ruby book sales were growing 1500%, and 700%, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention that it has quietly dropped to 53%. I don't bring this up to poke fun at the Ruby folks, but as supporting evidence for my own thesis that there is no 'next' Java and there is no 'next' framework.

Patrick Mueller responded:

Yeah, that would be a sucky business to be in, when your growth rate is ONLY 53%/year.

Mike Hendrickson - State of the Computer Book Market 2008, part 4 -- The Languages:

We reported last year that Ruby had grown nicely, had passed Perl and Python, and was knocking on the door for Visual Basic's spot. However, Ruby had the largest decrease in unit sales in 2008. ...


If you look at the five-year trend for the languages shown below, you can see that C# has been steadily growing year after year while Java has been going in the opposite direction during the same period. PHP, ActionScript and Python are the other languages going in a positive direction. Ruby, Java, and C++ had the biggest declines in unit sales during 2008, and Ruby dropped out of the top 10 languages.

Interesting observation -- I wonder what the underlying reason is? Is the market for Ruby basically saturated? Is it that no really big Ruby books were released last year? I may venture a blog post looking at the reason why Ruby is falling off (in terms of book sales).

Posted by Rafe on 2009-02-27

Oh noes! The next Java is C#? Welp, I can run it on Android, so maybe that's ok. I wonder if the astronomical Ruby numbers were also because, for a while, there was really only one Ruby book available. If I remember correctly. I think Rafe is basically right also; Ruby is just 'strange' enough to both get people curious, and then turn them away. Kinda like Smalltalk back in the 90's. It also never really got the corporate backing Java got. Despite Matz's claims of "the suits are surrounding us", I'm not sure that ever really happened, at least in the scale for it to take off. Never quite hit the tipping point for the general programming population, but there's clearly a niche market for it, for some problems, for some people, just like Mathematica.

Posted by Patrick Mueller on 2009-02-27

Maybe the people who were interested in Ruby have learned it now. To be honest, languages like Python and Ruby are pretty easy to pick up. I've been surprised by non programmer friends who have mentioned that they learned some Python or Ruby. Anyways, how many books on Ruby do people really need?

Posted by Adam Sanderson on 2009-02-27

In the last article of the 4, some information is missing to try to understand. As it has been said for each language how many *new* titles have been published for the year. Maybe it would even play in favor of python because I'm not sure there are that many new titles published with code examples in Python.

Posted by karl on 2009-02-27

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