Originally Posted by Katsunami
A real one, I mean. Even with all the advantages the ereader has (size, lighting, custom fonts...) it misses one perk: it actually isn't a book. For the sheer experience of reading a book, nothing beats a book. Just like playing a midi-keyboard with virtual instruments will never beat the experience of playing an actual organ or piano.
There is a book, in the physical sense, and there is a book in the metaphysical sense. It's a bit like the painting of a cigar entitled "This is not a cigar." It's not a cigar, it's some paint smeared on a canvas. What is a book, exactly? Is it the pages with ink on them, or is it the ideas contained therein, the words and images that communicate from the writer to the reader? In other words, are we looking at the experience of reading, or the results of reading?
I recently read "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood on my Kindle eInk reader. And now that I'm done with it, can you really argue that my experience of reading the book on printed paper would in any substantive way be different from reading it on my Kindle? Are the ideas and descriptions and images not in my head in the same way? I would argue that for any measurement that matters, the ultimate goal of a book is achieved regardless of whether you had a printed page or a screen in front of you.
However, I find that I vastly prefer reading on my Kindle. I read faster (strange, but true.) My chess books lay flat and I don't lose my place if I set it down to move pieces on the board. It's easy for me to carry books when I'm out and about, and to carry a "spare" in the event I finish one while I'm away from home. There is actually less glare on the Kindle than on many of my printed books. I can choose a font size that is comfortable for me. And my hands and arms do not get tired holding a 1,000 page book for long periods of time because my Kindle is light no matter how hefty the reading material. I don't need to use extreme care with borrowed books, because I can't damage them with careless page turns, nor am I distracted by other's carelessness. Food smudges clean off the bezel easily, so I can read while eating without fear.
Now, as a musician, I can say that you are correct when it comes to real instruments vs the virtual ones. The experience is not the same, but that is because we're creating something - a performance, even if the audience is only ourselves. With a book, we aren't the creator, we're the listener, and for us, it doesn't matter if they used MIDI, oversampling, or a real instrument. If our ears cannot detect the difference, it doesn't matter how it was done.
If I were to take your analogy with eBooks to their logical extreme, then it follows that real authors should only write longhand, because anything else takes away from the experience of writing a book. Computers with word processors, spell check and grammar check take away from the creation of the book, and we should go back to a Gutenberg press with real metal letters pressing ink onto the pages (or perhaps even further, to a room full of scribes, painstakingly copying each letter, then the pages handed over to a bookbinder.)