Sure, it frees up a lot of space if you read books online, but I've tried and it doesn't begin to match the pleasure of holding a book in your hands, as French--and other European (but not the UK?)--know. Book prices are protected in France, so sellers like Amazon can't undercut them. Which means that there are still book stores in every city neighbourhood and town, and folks who like spending time in them, looking over the tables, browsing the shelves, picking up and putting down volumes as tenderly as relics, as the New York Times records in a story this morning. Now I know I'm in the middle of a literary neighbourhood in a literary city--Paris--right now, but in California I live in the Latin Quarter of one of the world's big universities, Stanford, and the bookstores are few and far between and the university one, in particular, sells sweatshirts and mugs in most of its (considerable) ground floor square footage. I'd have to go to City Lights in San Francisco to find the atmosphere I can find in innumerable small and bigger bookstores on every block in the fifth and sixth arrondissements of Paris. So vive le prix unique for books. And down with chain stores.