As an avid reader and a IT professional, I am often asked my opinion on digital books. Yes, I do have an opinion but it is sometimes complicated.
The idea of digital books on an electronic reader is great but the books are often encumbered and the electronic readers are not even close to the ideal. Will we ever get there? I think eventually the readers will approach the ideal but I am not as certain about the digital content.
Why am I concerned about the content? Well, think of the things you can and cannot do with a paper book. Then think about how you would be able to accomplish the same things with digital content while preventing lender abuse. It gets complex quickly and typically involves some type of Digital Rights Management (DRM).
Once you involve DRM, questions arise over who owns the digital book. Do you own the book you purchased or did you just purchase a set of viewing rights? Also with DRM, there is a required communication between the reader device and the rights management software. This then involves issues of privacy and censorship.
As an aide to determining the future of our digital books, I suggest you visit EFF’s Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers.
To me a digital book is nothing more than a rights managed HTML page with a few annotation features. All this on an expensive single use reader, that still has many usability issues. No, I have no intention of purchasing an electronic reader in the near future.