The idea that printed material is depleting natural forests has been debunked for a while now. The paper manufacturers are required to use their own planted trees to produce paper. It would be too expensive to use old growth forests. Instead they use relatively fast growing trees more suited to the purpose. Still the production of paper (bleaching etc..) does have environmental implications like soil erosion and the sort.
A perfect solution would be a "blank book" with digital paper, onto which you can upload any content you like. Some years ago, I read something about "ePaper", I wonder if they're making progress...
Yes, people are making significant progress. See here
It's going to be a while before it hits the mass markets though apparently.
People expect that if they're going to pay full price for something (or anything close to it) they should get a physical object in return.
Agreed, but do you think people are moving further away from this idea when considering the wide adoption of iPod tunes, netflix, and even computer software? In the not so distant past, people used to value things based on solidity, weight, durable construction. In the present day, the trend seems to be more towards minimal, less intrusive, and disposable (i.e. cell phones) technology.
I'm an Ub3r c0mput3r g33k. I l0v3 c0mput3rs.
Why do you think this is a barrier in books but not in other forms of entertainment?
Several possibilities spring to mind.
With other mediums like music and movies there were always quality improvements that accompanied the new mediums in combination with smaller form factors. Also, there were ease of distribution and manufacturing changes that sometimes resulted in lower prices though early adopters of new technology like DVD, CD, and even magnetic media like VHS and audio cassettes paid through the nose for their first devices. Considering this, there always seemed to be a 'cool'ness factor with owning a DVD player or laserdisc or now a flat screen 60" HDTV. I think avid book readers are less susceptible, though of course not immune, to the advertising plague that advocates adopting new expensive technology and gadgetry baubles for the sake of conspicuous consumption. That's probably my personal feelings talking more than society at large though.
I've only recently been getting into e-books, but I've been able to quickly amass quite a collection thanks to torrenting massive archives of selected material. I absolutely love it so far and it actually allows me to share copies with friends more easily by just sending them a pdf file instead of handing them a book.
Given a preference, I'd rather have a physical copy of the book to hold and then I'd just burn it when I'm done or hand it to someone if I felt it warranted additional human consumption. It's no severe hardship to read it from a monitor, and this is coming from a person who probably spends an average of 10 hours a day staring at a computer.
Price or e-books isn't a concern since I don't/won't pay for movies, music, or books. If I weren't torrenting these books, I'd be renting them from the libraries. This is just less hassle all around. Perfect example was the book "The God Delusion"
by Richard Dawkins
. I had been wait listed by the local library for several weeks and I was dying to read a copy. I finally got fed up and decided to look online for a copy. Within a few hours, I had found one and it had already completed downloading. By the time the library notice came in saying the book was available, I had already finished reading it. Amazing book, btw.