I think in the future reading e-books is going to continue to become increasing common. Both millennials and baby-boomers are increasing reading e-books (whether on a mobile device or on a dedicated e-readers). People are able to read guilty pleasure reading (such as romance, mystery or science fiction) in public without being judged by whoever is sitting next to them on the bus. For better or for worst, it has made self-publishing easier. I think much of the sigma about reading e-books, will disappear as result of this, as will the snootiness of traditional book readers.
One trend towards the future of e-books, is the increase of people using dedicated e-readers, in favour of using a tablet or phone for mobile reading. Amazon seems to have anticipated this, as their kindle fire e-reader is more like a traditional tablet than an e-reader and they are also released a smartphone (which received mixed reviews). Some people in the publishing industry have decried this, and suggest that it makes reading “just another app”.
Streaming e-books might also become increasing common. Just as most content-driven media (i.e. music, movies and television, video games etc.,) streaming is increasing being studied for e-reading. In many ways it might be a solution for many current problems with e-reading. For example, libraries often have to pay a fee for licensing e-books, which might need to be renewed each year. Streaming services offer them a chance to maintain a stronger library of e-books over a longer period of time. Though this might not be a popular solution for readers who might be turned off by the idea of logging into read books. Additionally, some companies like Scholastic, who have switched to a streaming model exclusively, have made previously purchased e-books unreadable which is an issue for some consumers. Another problem is that some fear that as with the music industry, free streaming of e-books might encourage banner advertisements.
Also, many people worry about the effect that e-books have on author’s livelihoods. Much like the music industry, e-books in many cases have promoted “race to the bottom” sales tactics. For example, Amazon’s frequent free or heavily discounted e-books. The authors, often suffer the most from low pricing as they only get a small royalty percentage from every copy sold. Similarly streaming e-books might result in even lower royalties for authors, if the pennies that musicians receive from music streaming is any indication.
Obviously, these trends might have significant changes within the next few months or years.