There will always be pirates.
But, there are a GREAT great many of us that would LOVE to have the OPTION of actually purchasing legitimate stories in e-book format. Heck, to be honest, one of my favorite publishes is BAEN, simply because of their digital library. They keep seeding the market, and their NEW books have included CD ROMS of some of those ebooks in html format from their website. Awesome stuff. And because of it, I've found 3 new authors that I enjoy reading their stories. My wife, has most of their paper books already, but thoroughly enjoys the electronic versions too!
by offering a digital copy, even for a nominal price (3 or 4 dollars is good for a digital), you have the opportunity to "biggie-size" your book purchase. Think about it for a moment and lets use McDonalds' as a business case point.
You purchase a Value Meal from McDonalds. Doesn't matter which one, but for specificity, we'll be going with an Evening Meal. Therefore, you will get, usually, one Sandwich, 1 Medium Fries, and 1 medium drink.
Biggie Size. For about $0.50 more, (at least here in Minnesota, USA) you can upgrade those fries and drink to a HUGE extra helping. The cost of offering this is about $0.05 to $0.10 of raw product, and maybe about $0.05 for the cost of labor involved. (It was actually cheaper than this when I worked at Burger King as an Asst Mgr in 1996. I figure with inflation, this would be approximately correct. Mind you. It could be double the costs I've specified, but you can still see the example). As a result, you still have a net profit on each order that's Biggied' of about $0.35. That is on TOP of the base net profit of the actual meal itself, so you just padded your sale with a LOT OF EXTRA revenue. And of course, one would hope that your customer is also happy with their purchase. It would be a good win-win situation for everyone.
In the case of Rowling's books in ebook format. EVERYONE wants a hardcopy. EVERYONE is going to want some kind of paper format. Period. Their collectables. At least as far as the people _I_ know go, they're collectables. That means you have pretty much 1 guaranteed sale. Now. Let's biggie size this and offer either one of two options: Opt 1 - sell an ebook format on a website such as Mobileread or ereader.com. You just sold extra revenue in a base location that everyone can easily find and download from. Further, you just made a huge profit, because you're not having to store physical books, nor pay for transport or other fees. The only one you'd have to worry about is sharing it with the server folk who ever is hosting for you since they ahve to pay for server space, as well as for setting up the ability to do an electronic transaction securely.
Now. Option 2 - Include a CD with the book in electronic format. Increase the price of the book to accomodate this, and of course, you can put DRM on the file if you include it in Adobe PDF format. /shrug/
Sounds like a win/win situation to me, although I personally don't like DRM. I think Baen has a great idea, and would hope that many many more publishers take a serious look at them. In my opinion, they are a market leader, and between my wife and I, they're also first dibs on our business when looking for books.