There was a talk (German) by Steini (*) about the current status of e-books and the future developments in the morning session today. It covered the few current available e-book readers and the status of displaying technologies (e-ink, bistable LCD displays, visplex, etc.). Although e-books are quite promising the available ones (mainly the Sony libre, Sony Reader, iliad iRex, Amazon Kindle (**)) are too expensive and not mature (slow, bad interfaces, restrictions, lacking features).
Steini thinks that in future due to the low energy consumption and better readability of the e-books they might fill the gaps that the PDAs were suppose to fill. Kids will carry them to school, smaller text books (around 50 pages, less redundancy) will be feasible to be produced, new business models without publisher might come up. Book sharing, automatically transfered manuals of new gadgets and interactive stories are other presented implications.
As I am quite interested in this topic I talked afterwards with Steini. He mentioned that his company is currently working on creating an e-book reader that covers all the important features and lack the teething problems. Well, he is definitely biased but I am curious about the result, that will not only included the reader itself but also the necessary web platform. We will see the result hopefully in a year.
(*) the description of him in the wiki of this year is quite poor so I link to the one of last year
(**) During the later discussion also the OLPC was mentioned as a possible e-book reader. This was proposed also at O'Reilly Radar once.