Agreed, but it's much harder to make a copy
of a paper volume, and a paper volume can only be read by one person at a time.
The sharing schemes implemented by Barnes and Noble and Amazon attempt to duplicate that restriction, but require that you be connected to enforce it: you cannot simply transfer a copy from your device to the device of the person you are sharing with. You instead allow them to download and read a copy covered by your purchase license, and your local copy is disabled while they do.
Along similar lines, HarperCollins made moves to limit the number of times an ebook could be downloaded by a library patron. Their reasoning was that paper volumes wore out and needed to be replaced after repeated lending, and libraries should have to do the same with ebooks. This would add to ebook sales for HarperCollins. The reaction of librarians, coping with budget cuts, was to call for a boycott of HarperCollins, and for libraries to refuse to buy anything
The problem is that the genie is out of the bottle. Once something is in electronic form, it can be endlessly reproduced. It's actually fairly trivial to remove DRM from an ebook, and once you've liberated a copy, the horse is out of the barn and may reproduce at will.
From where I sit, it comes down to how you feel about the market. I may be wearing rose colored glasses, but I think the market will pay for value. The trick is to provide
value, price appropriately, and make it as easy as possible for people to give you money.
Instead of applying DRM and trying to reduce/prevent sharing, I favor the model used by specialty SF/Fantasy publisher Baen Books, with their Baen Free Library. The Free Library offers full electronic copies in a variety of formats from their backlist. (It's an opt-in for the authors, who chose whether to participate and how much to offer.) You are encouraged
to copy and share them. In addition, bound-in CDs are provided in selected Baen hardcovers with selections from the Free Library.
It hasn't hurt Baen. Baen is promoting authors
. People download and read one of more Free Library titles by an author, decide they like the author's work, and buy the new one in hardcover when it comes out. Baen author David Weber hits the New York Times bestseller lists with his "Honor Harrington" series, despite the fact that all
of his Baen work is available in the Free Library. Oher Baen authors who participated reported gratifying pops in backlist sales as well.
Baen's model won't work for everyone, but I think it's the direction things will wind up going.