I think the “death of printed books” argument is over-indulged. The printed book market is changing, that’s for sure, but it will not ever disappear. Overall, the economy has had more impact on how and when people purchase books, than the electronic book readers are.
I have Kindle DX, and I use it sometimes, but generally, I’d rather have a print book in my hands, and I think this is true of the majority of people. I have friends who have Sony readers, Kindles, and other eBook readers. I have a coworker who reads eBooks on her iPaq organizer, or on her video iPod, or iTouch/iPhone. For every way to read a book, there are multiple options to do so. There is very little difference in eBooks today than there was 10 years ago, to be honest. Up until portable readers were available, people were reading eBooks on their computers, or accessing them on computers at public and college/university libraries.
As a published author, I do not view any of these methods for reading my material as negative. If people are reading my stuff, then the goal has been accomplished. It matters little to me whether they are buying my self-published anthology on Lulu, my print book at Barnes and Noble, reading my blogs online, or downloading my eBook on their Kindle, PC, or other device. In fact, the more ways they have access to my writing, the happier I am going to be. Will the Kindle, or any electronic eBook reader, kill off printed books? Hardly, no more than eBooks, PDF’s, and having access to scanners and Torrent sites have.
What needs to be understood is that the business model is changing, and traditional print sellers need to adjust to those changes and make new opportunities for themselves. Barnes and Noble has done this by linking up with a manufacturer that can provide an eBook reader. They are late in the game to do so, but they have done it.
So think about the last 10 “books” you bought, whether they were electronic or hard copy. Out of my last ten, 2 were on the Kindle, and 8 were hard copy. Three of those hard copies I purchased used at half.com, 2 from the thrift store down the street from my house, and three brand new from Barnes and Noble brick and mortar store. Within the last year, I’ve purchased PDF eBooks online at various sites, as well. My bookshelves are never empty, any more than the hard drive on my computer where I store downloaded eBooks. No matter how I buy a book, an author is getting paid, even by association, and that part is what is most important, in the end.