<snip>For the moment, the ebooks are doing well, while sales of physical books are going down. Very sad. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/12/hardback-sales-falling-ebook-publishing. I personally got a Samsung Tablet for Christmas, and I love it. I don't know how many books I have already read on it. Before that, I had bought a Sony ebook reader, and I still love it just as much. My interests have always been in older works and I can get most of those for free, but as you mention, DRM is still a problem with newer ebooks. After so many years, the music industry is finally coming around to DRM-free files because it just never worked, and was too big of a pain.
Actually Penguin is doing rather well, including doubling its ebook sales (earnings released Feb. 27, 2012): http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/penguin-ebook-sales-doubled-in-2011_b20559 I rather like the idea of e-books, and public libraries are responding, with users pleased with many of the e-book features, such as increasing the font size and wireless downloading (when they have the right device with that feature). I keep my smartphone loaded with e-reader apps (the screen flips through pages more rapidly than e-ink devices, and the sharp screen resolution makes up for the smaller size, plus the wireless access makes it very versatile). The downside is that many users require extensive technical assistance,...
We will see how libraries fit into this new world. I have no doubt at all that many publishers would love to see libraries disappear so that they could sell directly to patrons. Amazon Prime (on book a month plus videos and all kinds of options) would be a genuine consideration for a student today, and if (when) the Google Books are made available, absolutely everything will change.
At the same time, authors are rethinking their relationship with their publishers (what do publishers really do today?), while libraries and other "information consumers" are rethinking everything. I guess we will see who "the fittest" really are!