A couple of days ago I shared my thoughts on e-readers and came to the conclusion that even thought I now own one, I am still undecided about whether I agree with them or not. Although great in certain situations, I don’t think they should replace traditional books altogether.
So it was interesting to see James Daunt, the boss of Waterstones, expressing similar views yesterday when explaining why he has decided e-readers should be sold in his shops. “To ignore the phenomenon, he argues, would undermine the bookseller’s relationship with its readers.” But, of course, the e-readers to him will be a means to an end, encouraging people into Waterstones to browse and then perhaps buy other products, not necessarily books.
Despite that, I still like the way he sums up the pros and cons of e-readers, echoing pretty much exactly what I and many people I know seem to think: “Digital is convenient in some situations – travelling, or reading at night when you don’t want to wake the wife. I certainly believe that ownership of the physical book does matter. Whereas that little file embedded in a piece of plastic isn’t pretty to look at. You can’t lend it. You can’t sell it. And you can’t bequeath it to your children.”