John: On this point we agree, especially for narrative trade books. However, interactive content and certain types of educational and nonfiction work — if we can even call them "books" — have their own development and creative cost issues, but that's a discussion for another day.
Choice is a good thing for readers, not a bad thing for books. With today's technology, every book is digital. Because ebooks are less expensive to produce and distribute, require less capital and physical goods, and have no returns, they will become less expensive than their print versions as the industry completes its transition. The data clearly support the projection that ebooks will be the book format of choice for readers who have sufficient access to the required devices and infrastructure. Over time, that will include a very large percentage of humanity, even if that means reading ebooks on smartphones in less developed countries.
Today's ebooks are new technology; what we find troublesome today will certainly be addressed, as were the problems of print. Print books will never go away, but they will become a premium format option for consumers. There will always be individuals, situations and economic conditions for which printed books are the most desirable medium. These additional choices should be exhilarating, not depressing, for readers of all ages.
We propose that instead of debating the differences between print books and ebooks, that we turn our attention to developing content products that delight readers regardless of the media format. That might help attract even more active readers which would be good for all stakeholders in the publishing and reading communities.
Steve Paxhia's (email@example.com) consulting practice is focused upon the digital publishing strategies and technologies employed by publishing and education professionals. Steve has been working in publishing and publishing technology for many years, has aided in many successful publishing-related business ventures and pilot programs, and is the author of numerous in-depth research reports for BISG, Library Journal, BookStats and the Gilbane Group.
John Parsons (firstname.lastname@example.org), former Editorial Director of The Seybold Report, is an independent writer, ghostwriter, and editor. He is the co-author of the interactive printed textbook, Introduction to Graphic Communication, on the art, science and business of print, which has been adopted by Ryerson, Arizona State, the University of Houston, and many other schools and vocational training centers. Custom editions of the book are under consideration by major printing companies and franchises for internal training purposes.