I will admit that this article may be a bit biased since it is written by a person who has owned a bookstore for many decades and whose business has taken a definite hit from the growth of the electronic book industry. That having been said, I will try to be as objective as I can and present both sides of the story.
I will start with what I see as the advantages of electronic readers:
1. For people with vision problems, the font on e-readers can be made very large and the back lit page can make reading much easier. Many of our customers order e-books for their elderly parents who can no longer read the typically smaller print in the average book. There are large print real books to be had and we do have a selection of them in the bookstore. The downside of that is our selection isn't huge and the publishers really put a large price tag to go along with the large print of the book.
2. When traveling extensively it is difficult to pack enough books in your luggage to last as long as your trip does! A friend of mine used to literally pack one entire suitcase full of books to last him for his monthly trip back to the Midwest to visit family. You can load up an electronic reader with as many books as required without taking up any more space when packing.
3. One other advantage I see to e-readers is that books can be delivered almost instantaneously. On occasion you may find yourself in a situation where you need a book on very short notice or your child needs a book that you weren't told about until the last minute! I have turned the page on my calendar to find that I need a book for my book club in just a few days time. Once I ascertain I don't have a copy at the bookstore I have downloaded the book on my Kindle. (Confession time - I do own a Kindle).
All that having been said, electronic readers can never replicate browsing around a bookstore, chatting with knowledgeable employees and other customers or taking a book home with you to hold in your hand and enjoy. Maybe it's just me, but I love to flip back through a book to reread favorite passages or to remind myself who that character is that just got mentioned and I don't recall! As far as traveling goes, one of my favorite things to do on vacation is the visit the local bookstores in the area to browse, see what they carry in their inventory and see how things are organized. Of course it is always fun to talk to another bookstore owner or clerk. Real books make great gifts, especially for children, when the illustrations add to the joy of reading. Honest to God books can be shared easily between friends. Some of our customers loan their books to three or four people before they trade them back in to the bookstore. Physical books are great for those times that you need to underline, highlight or take notes.
In conclusion, I would have to say that there is a place for electronic readers in our culture but they will never replace the joy and wonder of reading a real book!