For once, I disagree with your premise. Items in the digital age survive better than paper. Yes, I do enjoy reading a book. I was taught to read by my mother at the age of 3 and have been a bookworm ever since.
Still, I am sure that, when printed books were introduces, there were many who whines, “”Those new printed leaf things are OK, but I miss the experience of the good old scrolls. Being able to have the beautiful hand-copied text unroll from side to side is more natural and a better experience.”
I have an older Apple Powerbook and it contains over 900 books, magazines, articles, as well as much of my own writing, pictures, and videos.
I have several thumb drives that can hold as much as 128 GB more of the same if I choose. So in a smallish bag, I can contain more reading materiel than I could go through in decades of reading.
It doesn’t deteriorate, can be easily copied to other media, loaned without fear of loss, and is backed up on external hard drives and, in some cases DVDs. Yes, hard drives do fail. That’s the reason for back ups. But hard drives will soon be thing of the past like floppy diskettes. They will soon be replaced by Solid State Drives (SSDs) that are faster, more reliable, use less energy, and can be even more compact.
For my reading pleasure, there are many thousands of books available at no cost. Even the very latest releases can be found cheaply.
Places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble do gouge the public on digital versions by charging as much as for bound versions. This will change as sites with a modern business method arise, Really, what does it cost Amazon to allow you to download a digital book? They still have their original and have really sold you only a copy that cost them nothing. Yes, the author is entitled to his royalty, as is the publisher and Amazon is also entitled to a profit. But $14 – $20 for an e-book?
More and more authors are turning to electronic publication and some will have their own web sites and cut out the publishers and bookstores entirely. Whether this will be good or bad for literature remains to be seen but it is what’s happening.