Last week, a gentleman stopped Carla in the store and asked what Politics & Prose is going to do about selling electronic books. He said, “I love your store, and I want to see it survive, and I think you will have to sell e-books as part of the mix.” We think so, too, and with this new website, e-books are now an option available to our customers. You can order e-books for Adobe Digital Editions (which supports the Sony Readers); the Palm eReader (serving Blackberry, iPhone, and iPod touch); and the Microsoft Reader. Use the following link to browse and search titles available for immediate download.

The question on everybody’s minds - authors, publishers, booksellers - is how the e-book will develop and how much of the market share it will represent in, say, a decade. Publishers and agents also wonder how the new technology will affect their revenue.)

First, a successful and popular electronic reader must be developed (and one that is not the solely-owned vehicle of a giant bookseller). Although we know that there are readers who devour books on their Kindles and their iPods, reports are still mixed comparing the pleasure and dexterity necessary to use e-readers. (See, for instance Nicholson Baker's recent review, "A New Page: Can the Kindle really improve on the book?" in the New Yorker.)

Naturally, we think that the book – the codex – is the most perfect artifact ever invented - the most beautiful, the most convenient. We love our shelves lined with friends we have met and hope to reacquaint ourselves with on a rainy day in the future. We love being able to pass books along to friends. On the Mexican trip each year, Carla takes a bag of books and reads and shares them with fellow travelers.

But we do understand the environmental argument, as well as the convenience argument for the e-reader. What we don’t know yet is how quickly people will shift, whether readers will continue to read in both ways, or whether there are some books that will work better on e-readers than others.

We find on ourselves on this e-book voyage (whether by train or rocket ship) and we are observing with you both how the platforms develop and how the publishers respond. We would love to receive your advice and thoughts. Write to and both of us will get your email.

-- Barbara & Carla