Originally Posted by QuantumIguana
One big difference is that to loan an e-book requires making a copy of it, while a paper book doesn't. With a paper book, I can loan it out, I can sell it or give it away as I wish. It's copyright, not readright or loanright. Paper books wear out, and will eventually have to be replaced.
The copying argument is a technicality. An eBook can't be copied as many times as the library wants. A single eBook copy must be distributed serially or not at all. In other words, the library does not make a copy of the eBook, and then have two to distribute. They still only have one eBook to distribute.
If you really want to look at it the way you are, then it follows that all the major eBook distributers are violating copyright by allowing customers to save the same book on multiple devices tied to the same account. The fact that I have a book on my Kindle, my Nexus 7 and my iPhone all at the same time means I should have bought 3 copies, correct?
And while it is true that physical books wear out, I don't think that represents a large number of sales for the book companies.