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We've Reached the E-Book Tipping Point

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Count me among those who would much rather hold a book in my hand as I read, pen at the ready, rather than clicking through glowing text on a screen. My idea of a satisfying reading experience is leaving a book I've been crazy about with notes and underlines, down-turned page corners and stray bits of paper left in as place-holders, and of course, splotches of spilled coffee or raspberry jam.

But as a writer of books, a believer in books as a tool to greater knowledge and perspective that we need more than ever in this age of fractured attention spans, I'm thrilled to see that in the last six months e-books have reached a critical tipping point of acceptance. We can finally get beyond all the boring arguments and get down to the fun part, which is watching how writers - and the people who help them - respond to the creative challenge of having new possibilities open up.

The crossing of the Rubicon where e-books are concerned comes not so much with the wildly growing numbers of books and reading devices sold, but with the crumbling of that favored weapon of the New York-based book world, snobbery.

Dwight Garner of The New York Times, a book critic whom I defy anyone to read regularly without becoming a fan, has checked in with two big pieces relating to e-books of late, but the most important aspect of his piece last Sunday was the bit up high about Nicholson Baker in The New Yorker calling "Amazon's Kindle, in a memorable put-down, 'the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of.'"

No, e-readers are not a flash in the pan to be bought on late-night TV. And so be it! Here's to more people reading books, in more places, in more ways, with more passion and enjoyment, no matter whether they are reading "The Hunger Games" or Sartre and doing so through ink on paper or not.

Garner made an interesting point about going local.

He urged: "Shop local, when you can. Ask your local independent bookseller about buying e-books through them."

We don't have to be snobs about how other people choose to read books. We're venturing into the unknown in many ways, which is the exciting part.

How do you think e-readers will change the nature of books? What would you like to see more of published in e-book form? Have you tried for example reading a Kindle Single?