Steven Johnson is optimistic:

What's encouraging is that the early new platformsKindle and iPadare clearly leading to people buying more books. The data is in on that. Books are not going away; in fact, publications seem to be increasing and people are willing to pay money for them. And what we've seen in just the past four or five months has been this incredible arms race between the Kindle app and the iBook app; every month they're likenow we've got a dictionary app, now you can take notes, now you can share your notes. The bells and whistles around the text are constantly getting improved. One of the things that's fascinating about the Gutenberg era is how long it took them to invent the things we now take for granted. Gutenberg comes out with the book, and they figure out how to make an index 60 years later. They had 60 years of "You know, it would be really nice if we could look something up."

We're having comparable breakthroughs every six months now.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.