I think Technology Review might be my new favorite publication. Just finished a short article called The Future of Books, by Jason Epstein, who "...worked in book publishing for more than 4o years. He was editorial director of Random House and founded Anchor Books, the New York Review of Books, the Library of America, and the Readers Catalog. Now in retirement, he wants to digitally reconstruct publishing, as digitization is re-creating the music industry."
Basically this article is a brief history of scholarly paperback book publishing in the US, ending with a vision of the future where books are commonly printed on demand.
I just had an email conversation with a student in Israel. We determined there was pretty much no way I was going to be able to deliver books from my collection to her. But if my library were willing to subsidize her, or if she was willing to pay the small amount (not predicted in the article) such print-on-demand would cost, someday in the future this might prove to be a very viable solution for the distance student.
This is also available as a PDF in Academic Search Premier (link should work if you have access on your campus). Technology Review; Jan2005, Vol. 108 Issue 1, p60, 4p