As a proponent of ebooks, as an author digitally published, as someone who understood what the heck they are long before much of the population, I often find myself explaining--no, promoting--the reading devices.
My Sony Reader gets attention. Usually someone at the doctor or dentist waiting room, or in line at the post office, will notice it and strike up a conversation (insert wild applause). These people who recognize the device want to hold it, see what the screen looks like. All good, and I love to share. It's always some bystander though... and if I had a buck for every time I've heard this one silly line, I could probably buy another Reader. (or the Kobo, I think I'm in love with it now)
"I don't know..." Naysayer drawls. "I really love the feel and smell of a book in my hand."
Cha-ching! Where's my buck?
I've got one word to say to this line of reasoning: Poppycock.
I think it's a goofy comment somebody made without thinking first, and millions of others have heard it and repeated it. (and it's probably code for "I don't really know about those ebooks, and change scares me, so I'll say something to make it sound like I just prefer paper.")
People, come on! You don't read a book because of how it feels. (They all feel different anyway. Thickness, size, glossy cover or nonglossy...can you possibly be addicted to all those "feel"s? And smell? You've got everything from freshly-printed ink--I'll admit I like that one--to the ashtray-like odor a previous smoker left in a library tome, to the distinctly coconut-and-chlorine odor a poolbag book absorbs, and let's not even go to the smell Frank leaves in a paperback after he totes it around in his coveralls pocket for a couple weeks.) Let me repeat, you don't read a book for how it feels. You read a book to be swept away into someone's imagined story (or for whatever nonfiction need). Do you go to the movies because you like stadium seating? No. You go there for the story. (and I'm betting you don't drag a book along to hold in your hands during the movie either) Did we listen to music in the 70's because we loved the way an 8-track interrupted right in the middle of a song, to change channels? No. We liked the music. Same as we liked the movie--not the rewinding or the squiggly tracking lines onscreen--when we viewed VHS tapes. I didn't hear many people saying, "Oh, I don't know about those DVD's. I really like to see the lines onscreen. It makes it feel more like movie to me. And then rewinding afterward just completes the experience."
If you're not ready to convert to ebooks yet, that's OK. Just say so. Say you don't feel like shelling out the cash. Say you're not tech-forward. Say you don't need one more gadget to master. But please, for the love of all that is written, do NOT say you need the feel of a book in your hand in order to experience a story. Because even if I bite my tongue, you might hear something like, "poppycock."