E-books are beginning to get their due, even from the guardians of intellectual life.
If I were someone who believed that culture was solely something that rode atop the more important economic and social structures of the world, I might believe that as soon as book sales began to tilt towards the electronic variety, the world's cultural critics would begin to pay homage to the new king. I'd expect to find essays in the great literary magazines about how reading e-books was commendable, salutary, even salubrious! These arguments, of course, would be made on the merits of the reading experience and not on the economic necessity of supporting the new form or the technological appeal of the gadgets in which the books are found. No, these arguments would be made solely within the bounds of the bookish and according to the rules of engagement long-ago established.
Completely unrelatedly, here is a quite wonderful essay in the New York Review of Books about the value of e-books:
The e-book, by eliminating all variations in the appearance and weight of the material object we hold in our hand and by discouraging anything but our focus on where we are in the sequence of words (the page once read disappears, the page to come has yet to appear) would seem to bring us closer than the paper book to the essence of the literary experience. Certainly it offers a more austere, direct engagement with the words appearing before us and disappearing behind us than the traditional paper book offers, giving no fetishistic gratification as we cover our walls with famous names. It is as if one had been freed from everything extraneous and distracting surrounding the text to focus on the pleasure of the words themselves. In this sense the passage from paper to e-book is not unlike the moment when we passed from illustrated children's books to the adult version of the page that is only text. This is a medium for grown-ups.
E-books, then, are the soul of the book freed from the wood flesh! They are one step closer to the telepathic ideal of idea transmission.