Originally Posted by Iznogood
All right, in principle you are making a copy when loaning it. In reality, one copy goes to the readers hardware, the other copy resides encrypted and unusable on a server somewhere. This process of copying it is inevitable and is a natural part of any computer system. The same yields for music - which also gets copied to your player without anyone screaming Armageddon. There isn't a real difference: copying something when the "original" is encrypted and in a controlled environment isn't really copying.
As for wear and tear - it has already been stated in this thread that books have a very short shelf-life in bookstores. The current system for books is based on a book making back the money invested in the first couple of years, and many books aren't reprinted. The additional sale of books to libraries is in any case minimal.
I am not an American and may of course have misunderstood many things here. If so, please correct me. This is at least how things work here in Norway
There is a real difference. I can't make a copy and distribute it without permission from the copyright holder. But with a paper copy, I can give it away, loan it or resell it to my hearts content, no permission required. Libraries do repurchase books when their paper copies wear out if those books are still popular. Most books are forgotten, but some aren't. You can walk into a bookstore and find new copies of books that were written decades ago. They buy new copies to fill their shelves, and libraries do the same of those books are still popular.