I was going to illustrate this with a diagram, but I’m being lazy.
But this post is necessary because no one else is yet seeing this.
The current books-as-file-things will go away.
Books will be on the Internet.
But the lawyers get involved here and that can screw things up.
So, you buy a book that lives on the Internet from Publisher A.
In five years, the contract Publisher A had for the book expires. Publisher A no longer has the right to offer that book.
The way lawyers work, Publisher A will have to remove that book from its servers.
Your book goes POOF!
This should not happen.
Buying a book that lives on the Internet should be permanent.
I don’t know what the solution to this is yet.
And it’s unlikely that Publisher A, no longer deriving income from that book, will continue to keep it online out of the goodness of its heart (because ask any writer: publishers have no heart!).