The man behind the O'Reilly book publishers, Tim O'Reilly, recently released a series of articles analysing book sales in the programming industry and, in particular, devoted one article to breakdown by programming language.
OCaml can be seen right at the bottom under the heading "Irrelevant Programming Languages". The interesting thing from our point of view is that these statistics do not include sales of our book OCaml for Scientists, which introduces professionals in science and engineering to the OCaml programming language as a high-performance tool to help them with their research.
Naturally, by diregarding profits and more prolific publications like magazines, O'Reilly's article shows O'Reilly topping the charts in terms of units sold. Although selling many units is nice, particularly for advertising, most industries are more concerned with profits. To estimate profits it is necessary to take the cost of the book into account. This changes the results drastically and, in particular, penalises O'Reilly for publishing very cheap books.
Several amazing results come from such an analysis. Firstly, Flying Frog Consultancy have long wondered how we could boost sales and compete with mainstream publishers. From these statistics, it seems that we have been beating the mainstream publishers at their own game for some time.
We even outsold Practical OCaml in Q1 2007 in terms of units sold!
Secondly, we had been wondering if OCaml is a comparatively profitable market to enter. According to these statistics, OCaml is one of the most profitable languages to choose, beating Lisp, Scheme, Haskell and even C/C++ and Python.
Thirdly, dissecting the results by profit indicates that OCaml for Scientists is in the top 5% of the world's favorite programming books. This is probably due to the fact that OCaml for Scientists received universally fantastic reviews.
Finally, the growth of the market determines whether or not we can stay. The OCaml market has shown the second largest growth of any programming language, topped only by Ruby. We have felt this ourselves, as sales of our OCaml-related products have quadrupled over the past year and continue to rise.
Overall, we are very happy with the result. So happy that we will write a very cheap introductory book on OCaml and publish it through a mainstream publisher as well as release a second edition of our best-selling book OCaml for Scientists.
We predict that the F# programming language from Microsoft Research (which is derived from OCaml) will explode in popularity over the next year, starting with the publication of Foundations of F# by Robert Pickering later this month, then Expert F# and our own F# for Scientists.