Books: Bits vs. Atoms

Jeff Atwood recently wrote a fantastic piece on the current standard of eBooks:

Because I love words, I want to love eBooks. I want to buy lots and lots of eBooks. But unless the publishers are willing to treat eBooks with the same respect and care that they give to their printed books – and most importantly of all, adjust their pricing to reflect the brave new economy of bits, and not an antiquated economy of atoms – they’re destined to eventually suffer the same fate as the Encyclopedia Britannica.

This article couldn’t be more correct.

I’ve recently decided to stop buying print books under most circumstances1 for reasons that include both personal convenience, and a desire to consume less resources.

Unfortunately, as Jeff has pointed out, eBooks just aren’t 100% there yet. Traditional novels are fine from Kindle/iBookstore, but I read a lot of technology books, and the instant you get into screenshots or diagrams the formatting goes straight out the window. Many of the tech-related publishers are providing the option to go for PDF instead but this still feels like settling for second-best until they get their act together.

  1. Recent print books purchased include Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Advanced Mac OS X Programming by Dalrymple/Hillegass/Sherman, and I, Partridge by Alan Partridge.