Re: Amazon and Waterstones report downloads eclipsing printed book sales (Guardian)
Apart from the low pricing - the bestselling "ebook" cited is 49p to download - one factor not mentioned is that because these are online booksellers, it is natural for electronic books to be their default product. You probably could not get "an eBook for your Kindle"* from a high street bookshop. So it's not surprising when they find that electronic downloads are overtaking their sales of real books.
For high street bookshops, presumably ebook sales are zero. So if the electronic sites go over more to ebook sales, it might indirectly help traditional bookshops. Unfortunately, Amazon has the power like supermarkets to buy the market and force small local competitors out of business. But real books are not going to go away, ever. The sort of things being offered now are like the early digital watches: a backward step for the sake of technology, masquerading as progress.
People may be downloading cheap or free ebooks (though free ones are not included in the statistics above) but I have yet to hear convincing reports of anyone enjoying the reading experience with them. Reading is not something like laundry that has to be done as a chore where mechanisation is a help and a relief. It's a specific respite from technobabble, gadgets and the flim-flam of workaday life.
You can bet your life that people will always want to take a glass of wine or a cup of coffee (not delivered via a throwaway injector direct into the veins), a book and a part of their own day to devote to the mindful pursuit of reading a book.
Empanada Solero, Chiswick
* I think it is unlikely that any medium with such ugly words associated ("ebook" and "kindle" - as a device) will last. [Ed]