Admittedly, I live in a two e-reader household. I bought a Kindle for my husband as a gift, and about six months later I purchased a Barnes and Noble Nook for myself. I have stacks and stacks of traditional books that I have purchased over the last few years, some read, some not, but they take up so much space. That's what attracted me to the world of e-readers. You can download around 1,500 books to your e-reader, and if that's not enough, you can add a memory card so that you can add to your library.
I'll dispense with the Kindle vs. Nook debate. The main difference is that the Nook has a touch screen menu at the bottom, whereas the Kindle has a little button-like keyboard. As far as design, I slightly prefer the Nook for its touchscreen, but the usability is similar to the Kindle. You can adjust the font size on the screen, so you don't have to worry about text being too small. Additionally, the screen has no glare and really does appear very similar to a printed page. I've not yet seen an iPad in use, but I understand it's pretty cool.
A major advantage to purchasing e-books over printed books is price. Many e-books can be purchased for $9.99 or less compared to $15 to $20 for the print version. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer a selection of free books as well, including many of the classics. Additionally, you can lend and borrow books from your friends who also own e-readers. Another great feature is that you can usually download the first chapter or two to see if you like the book before you purchase it. And, you can shop from home and get the book almost instantly.
By the time my daughters are in college, I'm hopeful that most textbooks can be downloaded onto an e-reader, which is a trend that has already begun. You know how outrageously expensive hard cover text books are. Plus, with e-textbooks, they won't have to lug all those heavy books around in a backpack!
As a reader, I'm a fan of the e-book. They do lack a certain tactile quality that you get from a printed book, but for me, the benefits of e-readers outweigh the comfort I get from cracking open a new printed book.
Collectively, authors should certainly be savvy in negotiations with publishers when it comes to e-book royalties. In this pivotal time in the publishing industry, authors should bare their backbones to try to shape a future industry that will treat authors equitably. Of course, that's easy for me to say, as someone who's never negotiated a publishing deal.
What are your thoughts on e-books? Do you feel differently about them from a reader's perspective than you do from a writer's perspective? I'd love to know your thoughts on e-books in general.