A debate that is going on in an email chain with my friends today: will electronic books (via Amazon Kindle/Sony Ereader, etc) replace printed books in 15-20 years?
My friend thinks that yes, it will. I am, as a book lover, highly against this. I think part of the joy people derive from books is the tactile experience, of opening up a new books, a grainy/glossy cover, creamy paper stock, new binding. Etc etc. There's nothing better to me than to open a new book. Which is why I buy all my books and have them on shelves. You lose something when it's electronic. I would never buy an ereader. But then again, I also once said I would never buy a digital camera...
My own opinion aside though, I do concede that for the general public, they might not care about this kinda stuff. They might just want that next John Grisham thriller in their hands for their commute, however it goes. So maybe they make up the vast majority, and they'd buy it.
I still am not convinced though. I think booksellers might lose something - people like to go into bookstores and browse, and that informs their decision on whether or not they buy something. I also think for children, this is especially the case. You'll never get rid of print picture books. Kids aren't going to buy into electronic versions of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Not the way they sit with the book spread open in front of them on the floor. I also think there are actually enough people in this world who want a collection of books on a shelf that print will never be obsolete.
I don't know. I want to hear some opinions.