Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...
Cover via Amazon

An e-Book is…

… Well, simply that. It’s an ‘electronic book’ which allows you to read a book from your smartphone, computer, laptop screen or even an electronic device designed specifically designed for e-Books (see: Kindle).

Despite popular belief they have been around since 1971, when Michael S. Hart launched “Project Gutenberg“, digitalising the United States Declaration of Independence (this became the first e-Book in the world).

E-Books really began to take off in 2007. This was the year that Amazon launched the Kindle and Apple launched the first generation iPhone. In 2010 Amazon reported that for the first year ever, electronic books sales outnumbered that of hardcover books.

For every 100 print books sold through the site, Amazon said it sold 114 titles for its Kindle e-reader device. –BBC News

Now, libraries are even trying to monetize off of a development called e-lending. 

I can definitely understand why e-Book sales have skyrocketed in recent years.

They compress huge amounts of data: Carrying around one lightweight, electronic device is much more efficient than lugging around a bunch of heavy novels and textbooks.

They make books easily accessible around the world, instantly: You don’t have to wait days for a book-order to arrive in the post, clicking a single ‘download’ button gives readers access to material almost instantly. There is also no limit on copies, so you won’t be disappointed in not getting in early enough to purchase the latest release.

There are free books: old classics that are no longer under copyright and are now in the public domain are free for anyone to own on their e-reader. Plus, lots of publishers are employing a marketing strategy that is releasing sample segments of their books for free in the form of an e-book. So, you can try before you buy.

Nobody knows what you’re reading: This is good news for the horny housewives- 50 Shades of Grey and other erotic novels can be read anywhere you go, no judgements by passers by! (Disclaimer: I’ve begun to notice the “I’m reading something I shouldn’t be reading in public but I’m getting away with it thanks to this e-reader” face) .

However, there are still drawbacks to this ever-growing development.

Loss of sentiment: I’m going to be super old-fashioned in saying that I do enjoy the smell of a new book, and actually having a tangible novel is kind of nice. Having the ability to place it on your shelf once you’re done, lend it to your friends, underline your favorite quotes and so on.

The screen: For some, a small digital screen is hard to read and after a while it can be painful to the eyes.

Battery life: Although the battery life for Kindles is fairly long, the good thing about a paperback book is that you can read it for as long as you like, wirelessly. You can take it away with you without having to worry about a charger, or the possibility that the technology might falter.

Nobody can see what you’re reading: I mentioned this as a pro earlier but with some books, I want to own the fact that I’m reading it, because I’m proud. It’s also a conversation starter… not that I’m the type of person to approach a random person on the train to tell them that ‘that’s a great book’, but it’s nice to have the option.

There are pros and cons to owning only an e-Book. In some situations it’s nice to carry around a single paperback book but when you have a bunch of books that you plan to transport great distances, then e-Books is the obvious option.