This is the transition that is happening with all media formats and its ridiculous on Slashdot to even ask the question "Will this happen?"
I am only worrying about whether the writers and editors will be able to get paid for their work. If the book industry tries to do like the music industry and continues to charge as much for their product as they did when they had to physically distribute it, then they will lose out on billions of dollars they could have made by correcting their prices and getting their money through selling more products. And they have to make this price correction early on. If they wait until everyone becomes insulted by their greed like the music industry did then people will not feel bad about cutting them out of their profits. Digital media has come to the point where the consumer now has the power in the relationship and if the industries don't recognize that then it will be at their own peril. I think many of those who pirate would have been happy to pay something small instead for a legal version.
It seems like the ideal endgame of all of these digital media transitions is for there to be direct payment to the artists who actually create the content. If I could go to my favorite bands' or favorite authors' websites and pay something small directly to get their content like 20 cents a song or 2 dollars a book then I would buy a lot more of these things for sure. I think that is the prize we should be keeping our eyes on - freeing the artists from these archaic business models and the huge piles of middlemen that want to continue to get paid from the artists' work. The current debate about piracy really frames this whole transition in the wrong way. It continues to assume that these media companies will have a place in the future of media distribution. For hugely collaborative works like movies, tv and video games, I think there will be a need for media companies to create the products. But media that can be created by small groups or single artists like music and books, there is no need anymore for this huge infrastructure to bring it to the public. That's the bottom line for them, they are soon obsolete and few will miss them. But I for one will always want to compensate artists I appreciate and I think that is a common feeling, so we really need to explore ways of doing that much more directly. If we can transition to this more direct relationship between audience and artist then I think the problem is solved and our culture as a whole will be better for it.