An ebook is a useful format that is different from a paper book. An ebook can be updated comparatively quickly and easily. It has next to no distribution or production costs and is available to anyone with an internet connection. When I first researched and produced ebooks I did so because I was interested in creating an ebook version of a paper book to double up on its availability and because the technology was there.
However, it has always been pretty clear that it is a completely different format with its own pros and cons compared to a paper book. In software programming ebooks are often produced automatically from code documentation and this idea of producing a book directly from changes in the experience in doing something is interesting. For example, a guidebook could be updated automatically from sources in the field.
Some elements of a book are less likely to change that others. For example the general premise of a book is unlikely to change compared to case studies that back up an arguments. If a book contains references to equipment they are likely to be updated whereas place names are less likely to need updating. The author may add to an introduction or preface or provide a ‘changelog’ similar to software which details updates.
Paper vs Electronic
I have seen on a number of occasions the preference of a paper book vs an ebook is that you can hold the paper book, feel the pages turning and you get that definite feeling of progressing through the pages that gives instance feedback. I like that a paper book can be taken travelling and it restricts you to reading that one thing, without distraction and once it is finished it can be given away or go back on the book shelf. A paper book could be edited and have new editions made like an ebook but it would likely get messy and its value would increase over time without having any back up or copy. It would get increasingly difficult to distribute as it became more unique and different from the original.
It is always going to be something that splits people down the middle - some love paper and would never consider reading from an e-reader. Some like the fact they can carry hundreds of books on one device. For producers and authors ebooks offer many new opportunities to engage with readers and make the transfer of information and connection more fluid and engaging. The contrast between the two formats is part of the beauty as it helps to appreciate both.