When my husband told me years ago that books would grow obsolete. I shuddered. He said humans will eventually simply insert a chip into our brains. "Corn or potato?" I asked. He didn't laugh.
The Matrix films plug a person into the computer, but it's the same idea.
Brain chips haven't caught on, but my local family owned bookstore is shutting its doors, as are so many others. Sure, many are ordering paper books on Amazon, but electronic books are catching on. You can read giga-zillions of the classics on your computer, Kindle, iPhone, iPad, the... er... i...thingie (I'm sure I forgot something.) More and more writers are beginning to see the wisdom of self publishing electronically.
While watching the video of the unveiling of the iPad I got very excited about the possibilities in ebooks. You could have clickables- embedded images that get larger, video, audio- the mind just spins! Of course adding images, videos, and music you didn't create to your book will cost you. And people don't want to pay much for an ebook. I've been reading blogs and articles- looks like two bucks is about it.
I think consumers feel that if they don't have a shiny new *thing* in their hand, they don't want to fork over the dough. I mean, we've all paid more than two dollars for a used book, right? Well, some of these ebooks are self published by the author, and people are paying the author about a $1.50 for a novel. But that doesn't mean you can't make money. Between sheer volume and repeat customers, you can succeed as a novelist this way. Well, maybe. Other's have.