There’s a great piece on e-books on Ars Technica that is written by John Siracusa. The article is quite long (weighs in at 7 pages) but is also quite good. IN it John writes that:
And so, a sad end for the eReader that I knew (née Palm Digital Media, née Peanut Press). But this story is not just about them, or me. Notice that I used the present tense earlier: “people don’t get e-books.” This is as true today as it was ten years ago. Venture capitalists didn’t get it then, nor did the series of owners that killed Peanut Press, nor do many of the players in the e-book market today. And then there are the consumers, their own notions about e-books left to solidify in the absence of any clear vision from the industry.
I particularly agree with the last sentence here. I think that the lack of consumer information and knowledge is really holding ebooks back. The other factor I think is just a simple lack of experience on the part of the consumer with ebooks. People already read news and such on digital displays, but I think many people (myself included) would balk at the thought of reading an entire novel on a digital device. There’s just some connection that I think most people have to physical books and I think a large portion of consumers will not be convinced until they use ebooks. For that to happen companies need to publicize them and present a clear and consistent message.