Every Wednesday, I have an essay or feature article on any topic that catches my fancy!
There's a lot of discussion over eBooks and it's often compared to the music industry. Not that there isn't value in comparing the two, but here are some points in which I find the two to be very different.
1) Replayability - One of the biggest differences between music and fiction is that with the former, you might very well listen to the same song a thousand times in your lifetime, while your favorite book will typically be read a dozen times at the most. Music is quite ubiquitous while a book will either be memorable or it won't.
2) Identical Experience - Save for the hardcore audiophiles or disc jockeys, there's really no difference between a CD of songs and a collection of MP3s. Music aficionados don't claim "MP3's aren't real music!" For most people, whether they're listening to music from a CD or from an mp3 player, the experience is identical (and most likely the latter is more convenient). That's not the case with books though. Aside from the visual element (and why people are trying to create technologies like e-ink), there's also the tactile and olfactory senses to consider. This also leads to a perception problem with eBooks, where books are perceived as being more valuable than their electronic version, or that the current generation find the previous easier to read.
3) Format - In relation to the previous point, one big difference between music and fiction is that the former is united under one big format--mp3. Sure, there are other alternative formats out there (some of which are even superior to mp3) but what's become prevalent and commonplace is mp3. With eBooks, there are tons of formats, and some of them haven't been perfected yet or are difficult to program for. On one end of the spectrum, we have PDFs which are quite flexible but aren't standard in most eBook readers, and on the other end, we have TXT which can be read by nearly any device but lacks most formatting capabilities. This has one of the bigger impacts in the industry, which leads to people preferring one format over the other, and the devices which support them.
4) Microtransactions - A good leveraging tactic of online music stores is that of using microtransactions -- purchasing individual tracks instead of entire albums for a relatively low price. That's not really applicable to eBooks, with the exception applying to poetry collections, anthologies, and short story collections where you might buy individual stories as opposed to the entire book. That's not to say it's being done in the industry right now but they're the exception rather than the norm (nor am I saying that it should be the practice).