As you all most likely know, a couple of days ago Amazon launched Kindle. Kindle is a whole new step in the world of e-books:the design looks great and early reviews are very good, from a technical standpoint.
What's more important, Amazon has created a completely new distribution channel for ebooks, and the story goes on.
But let's imagine, for a moment, that indeed this is the future of reading. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a year, but that's the way to go.
Now, there are a couple of things I'd like to point out.
First: this opens a whole new market. No, I'm not speaking about books: costs in the "printing industry" aren't in the actual printing, nor they have anything to do with authors. It's all in the marketing department, and that's a greatest barrier to entry into this market: even with huge investments it's hard to be noticed, to be trusted.
I'm thinking of everything "side related" to the world of ebooking: everything making the experience of reading an e-book different from reading an "old" paper-book. Services. Subscriptions.Kindle-widgets. This is the new market, the innovation: there's nothing new in a pdf, nor in a txt.
Second: once Kindle (and its clones) will start to become more and more popular, it's likely we'll start so see some "write enabled device". You want to write on your book (well, maybe your textbook at least) don't you? I'd say we'll have write enabled devices in a couple of years,IF Kindle is as big a killer as it seems.
Once you have a very cheap reading device with some writing capabilities, what's the use for paper? You are reading your books on an LCD, you can take notes on an LCD... do the math.
I'd say that the benefit here is for early adopters: a paperless environment might mean huge savings in a short time span, and thus a big competitive advantage. At least, until it becomes a commodity.