Today while I was waiting in my doctor's office for an appointment, I was reading a book on my Kindle. You'll notice I didn't say I was reading my Kindle. You read on a Kindle because there are books and other works on it. The receptionist mentioned that she had been thinking of asking for one for Christmas.
When I first got a 1st gen Kindle back in 2008, people would constantly ask me what it was. Now, even if someone doesn't own an ereader, they recognize one when they see it.
Mike Shatzkin is a publishing industry consultant who literally grew up in the book business, as his father was a book seller. His blog is called The Shatzkin Files, and today's post looks at the global ebook picture. He makes a lot of good points and one thing he points out is that the poorest countries may be quicker to go totally digital because they can't afford the costs of print books. He also thinks e-ink readers like the Kindle and the Nook might have a very limited lifespan if tablets can ever reduce glare and eyestrain enough.
Coincidentally, today I saw a post about Levar Burton on the MediaBistro blog. Burton was the host of the Reading Rainbow series on PBS, and in passing during an interview he mentioned that he doesn't see cutting down trees to make books as being sustainable.
I think it's going to be a long time before print goes away or even becomes rare. I do think bookstores and online booksellers will start to rely on print-on-demand (PoD) technology, especially because it will get better and cheaper and the number of titles will grow.
Once the digital revolution starts, it's really hard to stop it. Just ask the music industry.