‘Poor Charlie’s Almanack’ (and the Tragic State of E-Books)

When Charlie Munger — Warren Buffet’s longtime partner at Berkshire Hathaway — died last month at 99, I mentioned that a new edition of Poor Charlie’s Almanack was about to be published by Stripe Press (a subsidiary of the very same Stripe of e-payments renown).

The hardcover edition is out, but Stripe has also made the entire book available on this marvelous website. The site is beautiful, fun, and clever, and reminds me greatly of the web edition of The Steve Jobs Archive’s Make Something Wonderful. Both are damning condemnations of the state of e-books.

Regarding Make Something Wonderful, Sebastiaan de With wrote:

It’s hard to capture the delight of a real book, but this website does a fantastic job coming close. Lots of delightful, thoughtful little details.

I say “ebook” because it isn’t a word used anywhere on the website, likely for good reason: there are no good ebooks. The ePub file lacks all the delight of the beautiful website. Books on Apple Books are objectively worse than their written counterparts. This might be nicer.

Kindle editions are even more primitive, design-wise. Compare the Kindle preview of Poor Charlie’s Almanack to the website edition. It’s like comparing a matchbook to a blowtorch. With the e-book editions — Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books, whatever — you can merely read these books. With the web editions, you experience them.

Friday, 29 December 2023