Yeah, let me count the ways:
1. immediate download, anywhere, even the john = instant gratification
2. usually less expensive than print
3. can carry my entire ebook library in my purse (instead of having dozens piled in my car’s trunk for a selection of reading material on-the-go)
4. can read my books on my phone if I don’t have a reader, or my laptop, or my niece’s laptop when I’m visiting, or anyone’s laptop. That is, my library really is available to me anywhere I can access the internet.
5. less home clutter
6. no more need to buy yet another bookcase (I have two dozen and and still not enough, so they are in piles EVERYWHERE.)
7. don’t bother my allergies (I can’t read old books without sneezing.
8. don’t attract icky nibbly bugs and mice.
( My poor massive blue Life Application Bible, one of several dozen varieties of Scripture I own, has a very deep buggy/wormy/whatever hold that spans 1/3rd of it’s pages and back cover.)
9. aren’t destroyed in a hurricane (I live in Miami. If my house is flattened by a Category 4, I will still have readable books “out there.”)
10. can change the font to big and ginormous sizes for aging eyes without paying the premium we had to in the past for Large Print volumes (I mean, a lot more!)
11. bright screens make it easier for old folks with “dimmed” eyes to see words.
12. don’t need a pencil or pen to make notes on my Kindle books.
13. don’t require searching drawers for a physical bookmark to remind me where I left off. The reader/app remembers.
14. trees aren’t cut down to provide me with reading material
15. even if my reader dies, I can read my books on something else (whereas if my print book falls into the septic tank or the pool, that baby’s gone, gone, gone. And yes, I tried blow-drying books drenched in a roof leak, but they never are nice to read again. Rippled and gross.)
16 saves gas (no driving to bookstore)
17 saves time (no driving time to bookstore)
18. saves make-up, perfume, clothing (you can shop for books ungroomed and naked)
19. keeps you from overeating those tempting treats at bookstore coffee shop areas (you know, the scones and foccacias that my hips don’t need)
20. has that 21st Century cool factor
That’s just 20. Probably more.
Are there cons? Sure.
1. buyers don’t own them and can’t pass them on or sell them. (This could be fixed. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday Amazon does just this: we OWN it and we can choose to give it to someone.)
2. don’t increase in value like a limited edition or first printing or rare print book can.
3. DRM can be a pain (but this is minor as most folks I know who don’t like it figure out how to strip it.)
4. trad publishers still want to price new books at ridiculous prices that I won’t pay. (ie, if it’s over 10 bucks and your name is not Jim Butcher or Dean Koontz, I ain’t buying that ebook.)
5. can’t use the books to decorate a room and make it feel like a cozy old library. (I’m sure someone will find a way to fix this for those who have space and the desire..fake books…or just use old books for the niche effect of design.)
6. e-format is still less effective for a lot of us for things like textbooks, since studying with a paper copy we can flip fast, remember “spots” visually with info, mark up with colored highlighters. (Nook has different colored highlights but not my Amazon readers)
7. has that 20th –and 19th, and 18th, etc– century retro cool factor
Now, I don’t think print is gonna disappear. Ever. Eventually, print may be the “gift” and “collector” niche way of reading. But whatever: it will abide because books are (or can be) so, so beautiful and pleasurable in print form. Too many folks still want and like it. Giving an ebook gift is just not as elegant and fun as giving a beautifully designed print book you can wrap up and hold and flip through. There is a warm, happy association with print books among those of us who grew up haunting bookstores and libraries full of all manner of glories in paper. We like the smell, too, of new books. (Note: you can buy “book scented” perfumes to give you that olfactory thrill while using your Kindle.)
But if the digital revolution continues, I do think ebooks will surpass print books in sales and usefulness. Barring an apocalypse stealing the internet, the cloud library will eventually rule. That’s how I see it.