An article here talks about various publishing stuff, including ebooks:
"Several large publishers said that e-books now make up about 8 percent of their total sales of trade books, a small but growing number. One publisher suggested that in five years e-books will make up more than half of the book market, a figure that some industry experts dismissed as far-fetched."...
"'The hype never matches up with reality,' Mr. Norris [a senior analyst at Simba Information, which provides research to publishers] said. 'There’s money to be made in e-books. There’s money to be made in print books too. There’s no reason why publishers shouldn’t pursue both and just not let the hyperbole get out of control.'”
Dismissing 8% of book sales as a "small number" seems odd to me. That's closing on ten percent. Yes, that's small, but nevertheless a significant figure, I would think. And perhaps the projection of 50% is farfetched, perhaps not. Regardless, the point is that ebook sales are rising rapidly. Can the print industry cope?
I have no problem believing there is and will continue to be a market for print books. My concern is more what others have pointed out-- at what point does the current system of print books collapse? As ebooks take up more of the market, the print market tends to shrink (Mr. Norris' figures seem to show that wasn't true in 2009, but generally speaking, it should be). Right now, publishers send lots and lots of books to bookstores, and get a whole lot of them returned unsold. How many returns can the print industry handle before the current model doesn't work? Can the print industry correct the problem by using smaller print runs? Will they?