Are e-readers making books obsolete?

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Books are a beautiful thing. They offer practical information and can tap into joy, sadness, anticipation, fear and a multitude of other emotions bound only by the depths of the imagination. It's no wonder that throughout the ages and across all cultures, people have had such a powerful passion for the printed word.

But for all the knowledge and enjoyment they provide, books are not the most convenient of possessions. Over the course of a lifetime, anyone who owns more than a few inevitably spends a significant amount of time hauling, storing, organizing, shelving, loaning and reclaiming their lexical loved ones. It begs the question: Is this the smartest way of managing literature and other texts in today's increasingly tech-smart world?

Enter the e-reader, an electronic device that allows you to read books, newspapers, magazines and any other printed material in digital format. But that's not all. Many e-readers also offer Web browsing, games, music, movies and an endless array of apps such as The Weather Channel or Microsoft Office to enhance the user experience. E-reader sales have steadily increased since the debut of the Sony e-reader in late 2006 (Amazon's Kindle launched in early 2007), totaling 13 million in 2010 [source: IMS Research].

What's more, in January 2011, online retailer reported that it sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books. As of that same month, the company also began selling more Kindle books than paperbacks [source: BBC News].

Looking at these figures may be enough to make you wonder if e-readers will forever change the way people read. Is it possible that these electronic gadgets will ever replace books entirely? As we attempt to answer this question fully, let's take a look at the pros and cons of both e-readers and books. What limitations, if any, do e-readers have? Keep reading to find out.