eBooks are a step backward to the printed book, claims Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement and the GNU Project. In an article entitled, "The Dangers of E-Books" (PDF), Stallman makes the case that e-books are "a step backward from printed books."
Books printed on paper can be purchased anonymously with cash without signing any kind of license that restricts the purchaser's use of the book, Stallman notes. No proprietary technology is required, and it's sometimes even lawful under copyright to scan and copy the book.
Once it's paid, the purchaser owns the book, and no one has the power to destroy it.
Contrast that situation with Amazon e-books, where users are not only required to identify themselves to purchase an e-book, but also to accept "a restrictive license" on their use of it, Stallman notes.
"In some countries, Amazon says the user does not own the e-book," he asserts. "The format is secret, and only proprietary user-restricting software can read it all."