I entered the world of e-books when my sisters gave me a Kindle for Christmas. It is going to change my life as a book buying consumer and I'm glad.
I don't buy that many books per year for two reasons.
1. Print books are very expensive and there are other costs vying for my time and attention (ie. rent, gas money, groceries, the usual). What books I typically do buy are non-fiction titles I purchase for research in association with my own writing.
2. Even in this world of tons of titles, it is hard to find historical fiction that is non-romance and male-protagonist driven in the CBA market (or even non-romance historical with female protag).
But my late arrival to the e-reader world gives me hope on both of those fronts. Here's why. I mentioned how hard it is to find non-romance historical fiction featuring male protags. As a result, I often have to look outside historical to find supsense or action/adventure books that at least have the non-romance, male protag part down.
I was able to make a book purchase this week that would not have been possible if it were not available in e-book format. I read a great review of John Robinson's book Heading Home. The reviewer and I have some similarities in book taste and I knew this was a book I had to read.
Thankfully, it was available in Kindle format and at a price I could afford. I downloaded and read this apocalytic story in two days. WOOHOO!!! Male protagonists! Action and no lace! It was a good reading experience.
This gives me hope. First, the e-reader, based on this experience, is going to EXTEND my purchasing power. I will be able to buy more books per year then I could when my only option was expensive print books. Now don't get me wrong--my purchasing power isn't going to extend drastically. Some e-books are still priced rather high. But the point is, I will have more chances to afford books through e-readers.
Second, as a reader who has long been on the losing side of the entrenched cycle of publishing that says (naturally) we will sell those books the majority of the public wants to buy; and seeing as how my tastes do not fall in the majority, I think ultimately e-books will give me more voice, as a reader AND as a writer.
As a reader, I have more chances to flex my book buying muscles on those occasions that I finally stumble across a book that gives me more of the elements I want. It's a way for me to wave at the publishing industry and say "YOOHOO!!!! Book buying female who wants male protag driven action books standing over here! Can you throw me some historicals too?"
And I think e-books are ultimately going to give writers who are frustrated by lack of niches a way to get their work out there. And yes, that also gets into the whole realm of traditional vs. non-traditional publishing etc. But since authors have to do most of the marketing work even if they traditionally publish, the gap between traditional and other forms of publishing is shrinking rapidly.
I am very excited by the possibilities opened up by e-readers, both as a reader and as a writer.