I have been to places and times that I will never visit. I have met cultures that I will never meet in person, but am now aware of. Worlds, thoughts, stories and discoveries contained between covers, are free to roam in my imagination.
I look at the words that surround me and the memories attached to every book in my possession and remember. I read that one when I was a teen; philosophy hidden in a cheap pink paperback. This one was carelessly dropped in the sand. "Notes from the underground" on a beach. What would Dostoyevsky say if he knew that his work is associated with scent memories of surfboard and ocean? My earliest copy of Tolkien reminds me of reading past my bedtime.
My library, carefully packed up with care across distances, some great, some small. There is a sense of accomplishment when I look upon the visual display of books organized by subject and author. I gave up counting them a long time ago. Books given to me as gifts, inscribed by my friends, mentors and relatives. I cannot look at them without remembering the person who gave them to me, where I read them or what stage of life, opinion and interests I was in.
My reading experience is indelibly linked to cover art, edition, shape, size and weight of the books that line my shelves and occupy side tables. Some are old and instantly transport me to small, cramped little bookstores, where I found some of my most valued treasures. Others have been sold, donated, recycled through many different hands, passed on, gifted, lent, borrowed, valued. Even when discarded, they can be altered or left to the elements to biodegrade.
E-books, while convenient and accessible will never replace any of that. They require an energy source to read, sometimes irritate with their flash to black when turning a page and contain components of disposable technology that are toxic to the environment.
Paper books satisfy all senses; the smell of new paper and ink, the sound of a turning page and simply holding a book turn reading into a sensual experience. I recall where I saw an important passage or quote. I can read with a pen, adding my own thoughts to the margins. The e-book, however, is silent; the sound of a turning page is imaginary or artificial. I cannot feel the embossed lettering of a cover, I cannot tell by weight alone how much reading enjoyment is left.
Future generations of e-books will likely be more interactive and therefore distracting. I have already viewed some animated children's books. I want a book, not a smart phone.
I am certain that paper books will continue to be published for a long time. It is unlikely that the ancient art and technology of using ink on parchment or paper will become obsolete within the next few decades.
Given a choice, there shall only be paper books in my domain (and no wire hangers). As to the e-book that someone gave me? It's so thin that I cannot find it. It probably lies buried beneath a pile of books.