Depending which version of Christian craziness you subscribe to, it could be 1000 years of chaos and suffering before things really actually end.
That's eventually not going to be relevant. Operating on the assumption that all DRM is eventually cracked, ebooks can't stay locked down for long. So once they eclipse paper books for the average person they'll be widespread on torrent sites in DRM free versions, and all for free. The transition phase will be a little rough, but only if you insist on being an early adopter and want free ebooks. I'll probably get an ebook reader one day, but not until the free selection is as wide as digital music downloads on torrent sites are today.
Now, average readers won't know how to crack DRM or download books for free, but that's ok because them paying for books will subsidize us being able to read for free. And you can always do your part and spread the word to as many needy people as possible. And there's always the library.
The future is actually quite bright for readers and ebooks
Because we want them to use some of their record profits to expand coverage and capacity so they can both promise and deliver unlimited data. They really shouldn't be given a choice considering much of their infrastructure was either paid for by the government or made possible by a government granted monopoly.
Without that health care bill, I wouldn't have health care at all right now. I have a pre-existing condition and can't afford coverage but I get to stay on my parents plan a little longer and then will have an insurance plan fully, or mostly, subsidized by the government. There are bad parts about the plan, mainly because it didn't go far enough toward a true public option, but it has helped many people like me.
From what I can understand about BitCoin is that all the "easily mined" BTC is gone, and now you need a powerful GPU cluster to actually get anything substantial. It's analogous to the rivers and streams running out of easily panned gold, now the only people still being able to extract it are the large scale hydraulic mining operations who are able to invest in the machinery to get at the gold locked deep underground in the rock.
It reminds me of the adage about the difference between cults and religions; a religion being a large and popular cult, and a cult being a small unpopular religion.
It looks to me like there is a small, but not insignificant, and growing community of people who will gladly accept BTC as payment for goods and services.
What, exactly, have merchants been told that has convinced them that Bitcoin currency has actual value?
Belief that it has value, the same illusion that makes our USD based economy run
At least if we all had the same faith in bitcoin it would be impossible for the government or central bank to devalue our currency, effectively robbing everyone of their savings.