I just read this post on the Publishing Frontier blog by Joe Esposito and I couldn't disagree with him more. His premise is that e-readers offer more of a "just-in-time" content model as opposed to the "just-in-case" model that applies to print books. He believes the latter causes us to buy a lot of books we don't need whereas the former will fix that "problem."
Joe, Joe, Joe... I'm probably not the only Kindle owner who's bought a few books and has yet to read them. That's right. They're just sitting there collecting digital dust on my e-reader. Why did I buy them? Because I know I want to read them and, in most cases, I thought I would have the time to start on them before now. I was wrong, but that's not going to stop me from buying my next Kindle edition.
Actually, most Kindle owners report a concern about buying too many books, not too few. The darned one-click purchase option makes buying irresistible. I've tried backing off and only downloading free samples but that still hasn't caused me to buy less.
Then there's the pricing factor. Most Kindle editions are $9.99 or less. I think a lot of Kindle owners feel they need to justify the $350 device price by getting as many "deals" on the $9.99 books as possible.
I do believe the browsing and buying process will change considerably as e-readers grow in popularity though. One obvious example is how they'll help all of us purchase fewer duds. Thanks to Amazon's free sample option I've already avoided buying at least 4 or 5 books I thought I'd like; after reading the samples I changed my mind. That doesn't mean I bought 4 or 5 fewer books though! It just freed up those dollars for other titles.
So while e-readers most certainly won't cause fewer books to be sold, they'll definitely cause fewer bad books to be sold. That's a good thing though, right?