University of Oxford chemist Peter Atkins has made the digital version of his book Concepts in Physical Chemistry free to download.

Peter Atkins

Source: © Jeff Morgan/Alamy Stock Photo

Peter Atkins says his decision to make his textbook free, in collaboration with the RSC, came from another chemist who gave away one of his textbooks

The retired Oxford professor said he had opted to give the e-book away – as part of a special collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) – as a ‘gift and a thanks to the community’ who have given his other books a ‘loyal following’ over the years. ‘On reflection, I can also see that this is a way of reaching out to people who simply can’t afford the big book,’ he said, which sells for £75 in hardback.

Atkins, who has written more than 70 books, said he was inspired after fellow author John McMurry adopted a similar approach with his Organic Chemistry book. He is perhaps best known as an author for his textbook Physical Chemistry, which is now in its 12th edition after the first was released in 1978.

Andy Redman, head of books at the RSC, said that, throughout his career, Atkins had worked to improve both the study of chemistry and the public understanding of the chemical sciences.

‘In keeping with those goals, Peter has produced a full revision of Concepts in Physical Chemistry, a distinctive vade mecum which provides a succinct description for a selection of over 500 key concepts, set out in alphabetical order for ease of access,’ Redman said.

‘In partnership with the RSC, Concepts in Physical Chemistry is being made freely accessible in digital form, as well as being available in a print edition to provide the next generation of chemists and the chemical community at large with an invaluable resource.’