The real question is when the technology will becomes more affordable (consider the calculator). I know it's a simple matter of time, and that's when things will get really fun. I can't help getting excited about where this is going, particularly in the arena of public libraries.
I envision the next interpretation of the public library a little something like this: when a sturdier, cheaper version of the wireless reader is developed, library members will no longer get a library card, but instead a Library Reader when they sign up for the service. (Or perhaps everyone will have their own Reader, and a Library account will simply open up the Library's content to that Reader?) They will have access to all the library's books the same way they currently have access to the eBooks libraries offer online now; for 21 days. No more expensive library locations or denuding of forests.
Reference books would no longer have to be available on-site at your local library, but could be accessed by all.
I am excited. Though I am a book lover and collector who fearfully awaits the day hard copy books may become rare and too expensive for me, the convenience and availability of this latest development is inarguable. I expect many new features to be added soon. For instance, I will wait for the Reader with the capability to connect to my PC, because I can't help feeling paranoid about losing my eBook collection in the case of anything happening to amazon.com and the reader itself. I require some sort of back up option before I invest in my own eBook collection. And? I will wait until buying an eBook doesn't cost more than a paperback off the shelf does! Trying to sell me on the idea that what amounts to a pdf has more value than a paperback--trees, ink, binding and lasting value--is going to earn a big fat "good luck!" from me.
But in the end, it comes down to this: I can't wait until I can commute to work on the bus with a light wireless reader instead of heavy hardbacks from the library; I can't wait until I have easy access to all my library's materials without the inconvenience of county locations and interlibrary loans; I can't wait until I have my news and blog feeds all in one place along with my books; and last but not least, I can't wait until publishing becomes less rarified, and open to anyone who has access to Word and a pdf-maker.
Nov 2009: I am bumping this to the top with an "Ah-ha, I told you so!" As this article states, not only was it quickly obvious that the proprietary format of Amazon's Kindle books was going to be a thing of the past for readers, but apparently Sony's already realized the sense of partnering with the OverDrive (which also partners with libraries for audio-books). According to PC World:
Though ePub is not necessarily without DRM, Google's offerings will have no restrictions. One of the biggest drives towards ePub is that it is not locked to a specific device, so unlike those Kindle books you'd love to swap with friends, ePub-formatted books are easily distributed. This philosophy goes well with Sony's pairing with libraries to establish a "loaning system" wherein customers can check out books for their Sony Readers from the New York City Public Library (with inevitably more libraries to come) for 21 days.It's coming, I'm almost ready. :)
(Touch screen doesn't hurt, either.)