O'Reilly has been on the forefront of those publishers who are not afraid to experiment with - for a publisher - seemingly suicidal ideas such as: give a book away for free online and hope that its printed version sells as well.
It's published We the Media, a journalist's (Dan Gilmore) take on blogs, and many more books. Only time will tell if this was suicidal or a life saver. My premature guess will be: the latter.
O'Reilly wants you to write well too: life saver.