On the Verge of e-Book Mania?

Still, I'm certain that something like the Sony Reader will catch on, if not this year then in a short time. The phenomenal success of the iPod strongly suggests that many, perhaps most, consumers are ready to start buying digital books on the Web and storing and reading them electronically.

And what happens after that? It goes without saying that the economic impact of the e-book on publishers and booksellers will be dramatic (I wouldn't want to own a brick-and-mortar bookstore these days). But I'm more interested in how the e-book will affect the way we read -- and write. New technologies, after all, change art, often in profound and unpredictable ways. I doubt the inventor of the electric guitar foresaw Jimi Hendrix, any more than Thomas Edison foresaw chick flicks. The only thing of which you can be certain is that the existence of the e-book will cause the authors of the 21st century to go about their business very differently than did their 20th-century predecessors.

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