I hope I'm wrong, but I have a strong feeing that digital piracy is going to have just as harsh an effect on publishing as it has had on music.
One alternative, not right for every book or author of course, is to do the opposite of what everybody else is doing: go hard copy. Books with pages, covers, etc. But I think it's only the ones that have something different to offer that will succeed. Recently I've run across two examples:
Penguin's cloth-bound classics. Bound in cloth and with covers designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, these may do best as gift items but will appeal to anybody who loves the feel of a traditional book. There are 29 of them at this point, titles like Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Dracula, and Great Expectations. They cost £14.99, about $23, each.
More of a gimmick and much more expensive at £125 (about $190) is a limited interlocking edition of Mrs Bridge and Mr Bridge, by Evan Connell. It was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the man who also designed the Cauldron for the Olympics. The Penguin site says, "In a series of comic, telling vignettes, Evan S. Connell illuminates the narrow morality, confusion and even terror at the heart of lives of plenty. Hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure, these two novels - told from both perspectives of the marriage - deserve their place amongst the classics of American twentieth-century fiction.
I think there's scope for independent authors to come up with creative ideas along these lines. It does raise the price and if you want to get economy of scale you'll have to print quite a few copies at a time--bringing us back to the pre-digital danger of a garage full of unsold books and the need to pack and post. However, for authors who can figure out how to appeal to the affluent members of the reading public who want something beautiful or unique to hold in their hands, it could be a solution.
(Whatever you're writing, you'll get help from Your Writing Coach, published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)