Image via WikipediaThere are those like Seth Godin who love the idea of digital books and would love to see more. Many of their arguments for the Kindle and other readers are valid, but I think books in print will live for a really long time for several reasons a digital book cannot deliver.
Books are a reminder to read, even if people buy them and never read them. Fewer people read than don't. However, I think most people want to be a reader, even if they aren't. Having libraries, book stores, and books as decorations make people believe they are readers even though they aren't. Digital books get lost in the distractions of games, apps, web sites, etc...
Books tell stories that aren't between the covers. A title might trigger a memory. A cover might remind you of a relationship. Certain books laying on a shelf lead to inspiration without even having to thumb through it again. If you keep the book in a digital library, you may as well put your memories there with it.
Books are not just pages of paper and ink. They are thoughts of individuals. They should stand as individual works and pieces of art as a representation. Time and discipline have created the work and the work is honored and brought to fruition when it goes from a word processor to print. It transcends into greatness when that happens and it symbolically makes a statement of completion. It should not be lost in a list of digital archives that could be removed at the push of a button.
There are great advantages to digital books, but I use them to enhance my reading with the tradtional print. You can't replace it. Reading a book is like taking a journey with someone and we form relationships with the book on that journey, whether good or bad. Like a relationship books will hang around through thick and thin. They won't abandon you when your battery dies or gravity wins.