Let's say a few words on digital books and digital book production, shall we?
First of all, until I read Fenton's article, I was not entirely aware that there were companies out there through which one could store a book and self-publish it. I was also surprised that the books are able to be printed on-demand, even one at a time. From the description in the article, it seems that one can choose to have a quality book printed at very reasonable price. I actually think this is very cool. I know of some people who have tossed around the idea of publishing a book, but thought that it would be too expensive... or that they might have to do a huge order of 500 or 1000 books, not knowing if they'd actually be able to get rid of them! This gives them a great alternative. This is one side of digital books that I do like... well, the end result is a printed book, which may be why I like the process.
As for simply digital books, whether it is online, a PC program, or a personal reader, I'm just not completely sold on those.
Some people in this day and age seem to think (without much real thought) that everything is going digital, so we should just abandon traditional books. Even some libraries are pushing for more electronic books, and getting rid of their regular books. To this, I say "no" ...just "no." The digital world is too fragile to have that as the only source. It's not bad for a back-up... traditional books are frail to some extent as well. But still... and maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned with this... but electronic information is just so fleeting... it's there, and then it's gone. A real book is physical... you touch it, you hold it, you smell it... all of this goes into the experience of reading, whether for pleasure or information alone.
Also, I think some people are jumping on this bandwagon far too quickly. The general public is not ready to give up on books. While record stores are being shut down left and right, I still see book stores standing strong... especially used book stores. The stores are staying open somehow, so it is just far too premature to think that people don't want books. This is why it drives me insane to hear of libraries going more digital, and discarding their books!
I wouldn't fault someone for getting a personal reader... I'll admit, they're kind of nifty... but only as a substitute. Some do offer cool incentives: Barnes & Noble offer thousands of public domain books for free download to the Nook. This is kind of cool, if you just want something for a vacation or whatever, but it's just not the real thing. Amazon offered an exclusive Stephen King story for the Kindle. I admit, I downloaded it for the (free) PC version of Kindle so that I could read it, but I'm still not inclined to buy the device itself.
This is just one man's views... but the evidence that I've seen through friends and in the library is that people like these things as "something that will work for now," but most people still seem to prefer real books... I am certainly one of them.