When is the electronic publishing revolution going to happen? The books available online are very few. Many of the books I'd like to read are out of print or hard to find. When are publishers going to learn that people like me will pay them gobs of money if they will make such books readily available?
Gobs of money is unlikely. Newspapers have put their content on-line to great fanfare and little profit. The only thing saving publishers these days is the difficulty in ordinary people getting books on-line. Unlike a CD, which can be cloned in minutes, digitizing a book is a labour-intensive OpticalCharacterRecognition effort. -- IanRae
Online newspapers compete with free/almost-free television and free news web sites, so it is little wonder that they have trouble attracting paying readers. OCR'ing old books is labor-intensive, but most books published in the last couple of decades probably existed in electronic form at some point. I suspect the greater concern from the publishers is that online books will be freely copied, and that they will cut in on hardcopy book sales.
Yes, once they are online, books become just one more target for Napster-like copying. Personally I am waiting for publish-on-demand where I can get any book a publisher has ever published printed locally in hours. No more two-week wait plus delivery charges.
See also: BookList, ProjectGutenberg, SafariTechBooksOnline, OutOfPrintBooksCategoryBooksCategoryOnlineBooks