Seth Godin has been the author of 12 books that have been released the ‘traditional’ way, which is to say, by a publisher in hard copy, but he’s vowed his latest book is the last to be done that way.
He doesn’t specify what alternative method he’ll use, just that the publisher route is too slow, expensive and distant. Note that he is not saying electronically, at least not yet, which is good. I think there’s still plenty of room for hard copy yet.
As I’ve said before, I’m surprised someone hasn’t split off already. The typical time to print for a book is (typically) somewhere between 12 and 24 months (that’s 1 to 2 years). Why? Everything is done electronically, why should it be any more than a couple of months to proof, polish, get artwork and send to the printers? There’s some issues with publicity and not overloading the retailers with too many new releases at a time, but years?