The Virtues of eBooks

By Deane Barker on April 28, 2012

Books: Bits vs. Atoms: I’m trying very hard to get over my attachment to physical books.  Jeff Atwood nudges me further in that direction.

At the risk of stating the obvious, if your goal is to get a written idea in front of as many human beings as efficiently as possible, you shouldn’t be publishing dead tree books at all. You should be editing a wiki, writing a blog, or creating a website.

For some reason, I’m addicted to physical books.  I previously discussed my experience with an original Kindle, which wasn’t great.

There are two things that ebooks still just don’t do for me.

  1. They don’t provide some physical reminder of their presence.
    I love being surrounded by books.  I seem them, and I think about them.  I stack them up as visual representations of knowledge.  Whenever my eyes drift across the titles of their spines often makes my mind drift in interesting directions.  I need books lying around, it seems.  They’re like…trophies.
  2. They can’t be shared easily.
    I would guess we have almost 1,000 books floating around Blend.  We refer to them by title all the time.  We pass them around.  We drop them on each other’s desk.  They are a communal repository of knowledge, owned by the collective, that can be used by the individual.  I can’t get the same architecture from ebooks.

Interestingly, Atwood talks about a lot more shortcomings later in his article.  He concentrates a lot DRM, and the layout and presentation differences between ebooks and printed books.

But, other than those things, ebooks are so much more practical in every way.  I need to get over this hang-up, and transition away from physical books.

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