Dean Wesley Smith on how to think like a publisher #11. he has an idea of how to sell e-books as physical objects, and it's pretty interesting (Grokked from Jay Lake). There's a few things wrong with this, but they're at the tips of my fingers and I haven't been able to grab ahold of them yet.
The one thought I could wrestle to the ground is that while he's talked to indie booksellers if they like they idea, I'm not sure he's talked to those who read books on e-readers if they'd want to purchase books this way. Seems like if you have the reader, you already have a good mechanism for purchasing built-in.
However, that's not to say this isn't a cool mechanism, and a very useful one at that. Now, while he was talking about a "book on a gift card" I have to admit I saw a different purchasing mechanism. Most smart phones/e-readers don't have card readers (as in magnetic strip readers), but that may also be an interesting way of selling books (need to verify data storage capabilities on those magnetic strips).
Enthrill ebooks (linked to from DWS's article) have created a business model for this, but I think they missed the boat here. They're using QR technology, but I don't think to it's fullest extent. See, with QR tech, you could give books serial numbers (they don't have the information density to include a whole book, but could be customized to URLS). Each one of those cards on the stack could have a unique QR tag, which would lead to a discrete ebook sale/download (also possible with the book on magnet strip idea above). And the information you could garner from that scheme I think publishers/retailers would love to have. (And here I will let leak that one of my book promo ideas was to use QR codes to distribute samples, you know, once I get published).
The big draw back to all of these right now is device integration. There's only one e-reader that I think would work with this (although my knowledge of e-readers is woefully small here), the Nook. Which has been getting big buzz lately. But then, just as the Nook is wining brain-share for it's open format (to how books can be loaded), with these models we're just created another micro-space environment to substitute for others (Apple iBooks, Kindle, etc).
As you can see, I'm not being entirely coherent because my brain just went all 'splody with the idea. It's not perfect, or even (IMHO) a full plan at this point. But I can feel a great solution lurking just below the surface. This beggars to have more thought put into it.