The future of books?

In the spirit of my brief visit to the 'first' world (land of FREE high-speed internet, waitresses with iPhones, Starbucks, fast food, and so much more), I have been playing with new toys and I have discovered... The e-book.

I know, I know, they've been around for a while, but this is my first time experiencing them, and I have discovered that I am a fan! Despite my love for ink-on-page, I am finding that there are are a few things I really like about the electronic format:

- Portability: as a frequent traveler and someone who can devour a 500 page novel in one sitting, being able to carry multiple books in one slim device is an awesome advantage for me!! Gone are the days of lugging multiple paperbacks across several continents... Or the days of finishing my book and realizing I still have 8 hours left in an airplane...

- Text size: I know it sounds silly, but I love that I can re-size the text to suit my needs. As someone with poor eyesight I am forever wishing they would print things just a wee bit bigger, so I love being able to make the text bigger or smaller as suits me!

- Paperless: Ok, I am a little on both sides of the fence on this one. One of the great joys of a good book is passing it on when you are done, well-thumbed pages and all. But how many
books have I read and then thought 'well that certainly wasn't worth the paper it was printed on'? There are thousands of stores filled with millions of paper books, most of which will be read only once and then left to fill a shelf? No, I think I like the lower paper footprint of the e-book a lot!!

- Availability: A big plus for me, and anyone else who lives several islands away from the nearest English-language bookstore, is that as long as I am connected to the Internet, I can buy books!!! After 6 years on an island without a bookstore... THIS... IS.... AWESOME. :)

- Interactive and Educational content: The number of interactive books and gsmes for kids are growing by the minute, and they are great! From music, to learning the alphabet, to interactive stories, to spelling and math games, e-books are surely going to be huge resoures for the new generation... And they are great attention-grabbers, too! (Find me another toy that can contain enough gsmes to distract a toddler for hours on end!)

- Multimedia: Some of the new e-books come with embedded audio and video content, kind of like the special features on a DVD. Personally, I think the kids books are ahead so far, but there are a few cool things out already like those create-your-own-ending books, and I bet we will see more multimedia content in time.

Overall, readers, I am a fan, especially for trashy summer novels and mindless airplane reads. Iknow that nothing quite replies the joy of handling a well-loved book... But for the 9/10 books that I will probably never read again, I am an e-book convert!! Oh, and they are about half the price of a paperback, and I never need to worry about losing my place. Bonus!

What are your thoughts and experiences with the new medium?