Although I much prefer real, solid, printed, hold-in-your-hand books to their virtual relations, I have come to appreciate many aspects of e-books:
1. They are usually available for immediate download. If you are like me and are a type Triple A person who has a hard time with waiting, you will especially appreciate this feature.
2. They are often very inexpensive. Some publishers are now offering both print and electronic versions of the same book. The e-version is usually quite a bit cheaper, plus there are no shipping charges. Be careful though as there are e-books out there that are over-priced.
3. They are often free. Many companies or authors will offer an e-book as part of a special promotion or as an incentive for joining their mailing list. Homeschool Freebie of the Day is a site that links to limited time offers on free e-books and other products. Hundreds of excellent, old, out of print books have also been made available free online.
4. Hundreds of excellent, old, out of print books have been made available for free online! This is my favorite use of e-books. I love old books and while I am trying to collect hard copies for our library the e-versions have been quite invaluable as well. If an antique book you want to use is not quite in the budget at the moment, you can often find an e-version of it online to use until you are able to purchase the hard copy.
Many wonderful old gems that would otherwise be lost, lonely, dusty and unknown have been found and published online as e-books and are currently only widely available in this format. (Though you can always hunt for hard copies on Ebay, at antique stores, and through used book sellers). Yesterday's Classics is a delightful site that is reprinting old children's books and offers you the choice of reading them free online or purchasing the printed version.
5. They can help you decide how to spend your money. I have included many old books in our homeschool curriculum, but there have been times when I was not quite sure if I should use a certain book. Being able to look through the free version online has been a huge help in deciding if I do indeed want to purchase a hard copy or not. There have been several old books I was pretty sure I wanted to use and purchase, but after reading the e-versions I decided against them. (Though many old books are wonderful, use caution. They are not all worth reading.) Others I have been excited to purchase as hard copies to add to our library.
While e-books will never quite hold a candle to good 'ol printed ones they have earned their place as respected members of society. ;-)
(I'm sure I have not listed all of the virtues of e-books so if you have something to add, please feel free to comment!)