Sarah's comment about ebooks being introduced as a concept before the technology was really ready reminded me of something from my info tech degree, Lo! these many years ago (right around 2000, actually).
Okay, that's a mouthful, and one of the uglier words ever coined. But what it means is providing a service that eliminates as many layers of middleman as possible between the provider and the customer. eBay is probably the original example, with CraigsList following not far behind. These are places where people who want to sell stuff can list it for a relatively small price, with contact info and payment details, and people who want to buy stuff can find it and buy direct from the provider - who is, in the case of eBay, also providing the payment handling.
It was going to be the Next Big Thing, but ultimately it was, like ebooks, an idea that was ahead of its time.
I think that time is now, at least for ebooks and disintermediation.
The publisher started life as the only middleman. They'd arrange the assorted complexities (which are a whole lot less complex now than they used to be), and ship the finished product to bookstores or they had their own direct mail order. Then distributors moved in, because it was easier to box up large quantities and let someone else sort them out. The chain bookstores put another layer in, with buyers who knew nothing and cared less about the readers in any given area. The whole edifice is so clunky it's falling on its face.
Amazon was the first crack in the wall. Suddenly instead of having to rely on whatever your local bookstores held, if you had Internet access, you could buy anything in print, and get it shipped damn near anywhere in the world. Chain bookstores haven't adjusted to that one - and may never adjust.
DRM and all, the ebook readers are the next big break. Now, there's a device that can carry thousands of books, and doesn't cause eye strain. Sure, you want to have it inside a ziplock baggie if you're reading in the bath (this is something I don't do, because the water goes cold while I finish the book. It's the same reason I do not keep reading material in the bathroom. It's kind of disconcerting to stand up and have the seat stick to your butt), but on the whole it's nearly as convenient as a paper book.
What's actually happening here is that the pace of change is such that an age difference as small as five years becomes a massive cultural gulf - but the people who think they're in charge are trying to hold back the flood and failing miserably.
Just as an example: I predate color TV. My brother - ten years younger than me - has never seen a house without a microwave, or at least, not one he can remember. Someone born ten years after him would have grown up with CDs and personal computers. Five years after that, and Internet access is the norm, and CD burners are common. Another five years, it's broadband everywhere, DVDs and DVD burners. Five years on, smart phones are the norm. (I, Luddite that I am, have a relatively dumb cell phone. When my ancient, much loved PDA eventually dies, I'll get a smart phone and combine the functions.)
eBook readers will probably be normal for babies born sometime in the next 5 years - you buy them a reader, and all their school books live on it. It should - assuming that someone manages to step into the yawning chasm that is the disconnect between authors and readers (the entire publishing system is somewhere at the bottom of the gaping hole, at least physically. Mentally, I think most of them are somewhere near De Nial.) - be the norm to have electronic books which are not DRM and are provided by publishers whose websites include goodies like "fillable" texts - this tech is already partly out there in Adobe's fillable forms - where students can answer worksheets in the book, have them marked by their teacher via a networked system, and the entire history of the the lesson and the student's attempts to answer are there.
All it takes is someone to step up and provide a reliable source of non-DRM eBooks. And someone else with marketing skills I haven't got to promote the living shit out of it - if the service does what people want and they can find it, they'll use it.