In LISland we've been talking a lot about ebooks: DRM issues, the big 6 publishers not licensing to libraries, Kindle and privacy, Kindle and disappearing books/notes, Android devices, Overdrive offering different things to different libraries.... The big 6 publishers wish there were no such thing as libraries and they really don't want to do business despite the fact that libraries do pay and also increase readership overall.
With that said - that really has nothing to do with ebooks in science and technology research settings! All of that really is public libraries and popular books. My parent institution library did a survey this past year and got lots of responses about not having devices and things like that.... OUR books are nearly all done on the journal model:
- one pdf per chapter (no special device required!)
- unlocked pdfs (no DRM - can be downloaded, printed, marked up)
- searchable on Google
- IP authenticated
The main ones that are not - Safari and Books 24x7 - are just html. Our books are in our catalogs and sometimes are searchable by our discovery services or federated searches. We can buy large collections, too.
The thing is that scholarly publishers rely heavily on the library purchases for things besides textbooks.