Many children want to read books on digital devices and would read for fun more frequently if they could obtain e-books. But even if they had that access, two-thirds of them would not want to give up their traditional print books.
E-books are the only logical future, and soon traditional books will go the way of the record, tape, CD, DVD, etc. Technology will get to the point that a traditional book will seem fun, much as a record still seems fun. But the practicalities of E-books will inevitably take over the publishing industry, similar to how MP3s have taken over the music industry. What I read now is 90% digital, whether it be a web based library book, PDF, or just a standard web page. Also, my grandmother whom is the most avid reader I personally know now uses a Kindle as her main reader. What makes a Kindle ideal for an avid reader is the relatively new technology E ink, which is continually improving, but essentially the technology allows an electronic display to output text, in near print quality, better than any other display technology.
Another important inherent benefit of E-books is the ability to utilize text-to-speech software, which allows the blind and dyslexic to be able to quickly and efficiently consume books. This technology is enabling people with disabilities to obtain higher education.
Here is Amazon’s CEO on why the Kindle is intended to be a single purpose device:
My technology timid grandmother was able to quickly adopt and enjoy this device because the Kindle is designed to be a single purpose device, making it ideal for people who don’t like adopting new technologies, but want the convenience of them.
Eventually I imagine tablets will have dual purpose displays that can utilize both E ink and LCD displays.
By the way, if you don’t know about Project Gutenburg yet, check it out now. At Gutenberg.org you can download thousands of free public domain books, including almost every classic you can imagine that has had it’s copy right expire. It’s an amazing resource, and the books come in multiple formats, so you can read them on almost any device, mobile or desktop. You might not want to read all of Moby Dick, by Melville, on your phone, but then again you just might.
My biggest critique of the Kindle though is that it does not support EPub, which is the E-book standard, the one that libraries use. There are some ways around this if the files are DRM free, such as using the open source software program Calibre, which allows you to transcode most EPub formats to one of the Kindle supported formats. The one theory why Amazon would not support the EPub format would be to promote the mass adoption of their own store, as libraries and other online e-book stores are competition. I imagine once their online book store gets enough grounding in the market they will start supporting the EPub format, as it’s a potential competitive disadvantage for them not to support it. But even with the Kindle not supporting this important standard, it’s still the best E-book reader for mainly two reasons: best E ink interface/display design and free global 3G wireless.
The CEO of Amazon states that their goal is for the user to be able to download a book from the Kindle E-bookstore and read it on any device. I would prefer the inverse, to download a book from any E-bookstore or library and read it on the Kindle.
(Edit: Just to clarify the advantages of certain mobile reading devices: the Kindle, and other E ink readers, are ideal for pure text; while the iPad, and other tablets, are more ideal for magazine and newspaper layouts.)