It was only a few months ago I was arguing with friends that books would basically be irrelevant in a matter of about 5 years - it seems I was wrong. They're irrelevant already. With the collapse of Borders, the intense shift Barnes & Noble is trying to make from book company to tech company, and the incredible popularity of the Amazon Kindle, alongside the mind-boggling popularity of the iPad, I think it's safe to say the book is waddling on its last legs, with the legs being little open book covers waddling around. I have a cartoonish image in my head of that, but it's kind of hard to show in an article - anyway. The truth is, the old paper book is so outdated in every respect. You have the physical weight, annoying paper cuts, no built-in dictionary, no search, no built-in way of buying new books, and of course the fact that you need one of these heavy paper constructs for each book you'd like to read. It's not environmentally friendly to have to print out all that paper each time you want to read something new. I honestly can't think of a single benefit favoring old-fashioned books when faced head-to-head with tabets, or ebooks. Maybe autographs? But we should be maturing past that celebrity obsession. Have the author sign your face. The beauty of an ebook is undeniable. The lightweight simplicity. Clear crisp text. Ridiculous battery life. The ability to hold practically endless numbers of books, with easy search, bookmarks, and highlighting. It makes reading actually a more sophisticated experience. One could argue they like the old-fashioned way, but there's no denying that you get more bang for the book from buying it digitally.
The only benefit of its elderly paper parents is one of nostalgia.. Perhaps if you're a fan of dust, or that old paper smell. Yes, there is in a weird way something kind of endearing about the old-fashioned book. But there were things that were endearing about having a milkman come to your door, but I assume we don't dream of going back to that - not when you have huge megastores where you can get everything from Xbox games to barrels of Cheetos in one swoop.
With reading books digitally, I've been using my iPad - I actually do find myself reading books far more now. I'll admit Apple's multimedia all-in-one is a bit much, and oftentimes I feel a more basic ebook would provide less distractions. It's all too easy to slip out of reading a book and suddenly into some mindless game, or the endless cycle of what seems like perpetually more and more depressing news. This is why we're increasingly turning to comedy shows like The Daily Show or Colbert, because it's just getting harder and harder to swallow dismal story after dismal story without a little sugar to mask the bitterness of it all.
That being said, I think the facts are in and the ebook is here to stay. Books, are not by any means a dying breed, but a changing one. In the end, we'll all be a little more informed, will get to save some space from those hefty shelves of unused paper, and do some recycling so we can get that paper back into use in some more relevant form.... Maybe birthday hats, or toilet paper.... Two industries I don't see going digital anytime soon. Well... maybe the birthday hats, with built-in Facebook. I do miss the days where Facebook didn't own the world. That I do miss.