In On The Certain Economics Of Relegating Paper Books To The Margins Of The Business
James McQuivey says:
When the dust settles, publishers will think of their eBook strategy first. Paper decisions will be made as an adjunct to digital decisions. Many, many books will be published without paper versions at all, at least until they get enough critical mass to justify going to paper. Bestsellers from proven authors will always get both, launched simultaneously, and certain niches (travel, cookbooks, etc.) will always have heirloom paper editions. Subject to such reduced fortunes, books will no longer dictate industry process or outcomes.
The entire post is worth reading, and is the clearest exposition of the likely near future of ebooks I have come across. Mike Canes says Itís Five Minutes To Midnight For Print Publishing
. I would not go that far, and James McQuivey is most likely talking about the next five years. Even so, it is a brutal time to be in publishing and its going to get worse. On the other hand "interesting times" bring with them new opportunities.