Lawrence Block's latest burglar book, The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons, opens with a scene in Bernie Rhodenbarr's bookstore. A woman comes in looking for a particular book. She finds it. She immediately buys it ... using her phone, to read on a device. She thanks Bernie for his help. If she hadn't seen the paper copy in his store, she wouldn't have been able to remember the name of the book she wanted to read.
Bernie is inured to the fact that this is how people use bookstores now. His friend Caroline gets miffed on his behalf, but Bernie shrugs the problem off. (Perhaps it's no big deal to him because he makes most of his dough by burgling, not bookselling.)
Block himself seems to be okay with the idea of digital books. After all, he released this book primarily as an e-book for Kindle.
I'm still not there, though. I can't seem to read more than a few pages of a book on any kind of digital device. The free samples from iBooks are perfect for me -- they cut off just as my eyes can't take it any more. At that point, if I like the book, I get a paper version, usually from a library.
Come to think of it, I've been using bookstores as book-browsing-stations for years, so I'm very much like the woman in the first chapter of Spoons. I'll visit an airport bookstore and write down six titles in my notebook to get later at a library. Maybe bookstores will have to start charging entrance fees. I'd gladly pay a couple of bucks to browse in a bookstore. I'm not sure if this model is economically feasible for the book world as a whole, though.
I've just ordered the paperback version of Spoons for the Colorado College library. My library, like most libraries nowadays, "owns" and "lends" e-books, but we aren't yet set up for downloading to Kindles or iPads, so this is our only option for this title. Fine by me, and I look forward to reading it!