But ultimately doomed to be trivialized by a publishing industry that is very intent on maintaining its own profitability...
Authors, for one, can't get wide distribution without signing various rights away to publishers. When they become well known, they have more negotiating room, but that doesn't happen to all authors, and it's never enough to seriously negotiate.
I just spent a couple of hours in a local bookstore, and I noticed something. Unless I'm shopping for technical books, there just aren't that many books that I want to read anymore. I tend to stick to a few limited genres, and maybe that's part of my problem, but even in those genres authors are puking up whatever crap they can as fast as they can, to enjoy their moment in the sun and make as much money as possible before being relegated to obscurity.
It seems that every book is a trilogy, or worse, because every author is telling an "epic" story; that every collection of short stories has one or two that have "never before been published", but the rest I already have multiple copies of, so they're not worth paying for; and that all the good ideas are just gone. I almost bought a copy of "The Truth Machine", but I dismissed it an attempt at prophecy, and the basic premise of the truth machine was so ludicrous that I just couldn't suspend disbelief long enough to get through a few pages: someone discovers an infallible lie detector.
I could not find one book I was willing to pay for. Part of the problem is that book prices have never been higher. I spent $7.99 on "Bolos: Cold Steel" and felt like I'd been robbed. I buy those books because I prefer short stories for their varied viewpoints. "Cold Steel" had two stories in it, and neither was very good (it also has a picture of what looks like a dead Osama bin Laden on the cover, which is interesting).
Ever seen this?
We're only a short step away from books-on-demand, but publishers won't take that step. The current run of crap in the book store is there to fill the shelves. Like music publishing, content on demand is what people want, but it's not going to happen.
You're probably asking what this has to do with copyright, and that's a good question. Why has Congress extended patent terms for older drugs that were about to expire, or why did Congress recently push the extension of copyright? Profitability. The industries involved have convinced our elected representatives that they cannot maintain profitability without special legislative protection. That's clearly ludicrous, yet it is.
Why are there book trilogies (or worse)? Because it's easier to manage a single successful story from a single author than many stories, some of which will not be successful, from many authors. The good ones provide a means for bringing all the crap to market. Essentially, readers are paying for the latest installment in the serial. The stories never end, just look at the "Shannara" stories, or "The Wheel of Time". It's the holy grail of book publishing.
How does your idea provide publishers with assurances of profitability? It doesn't. As I said, I think it's an interesting idea, but limited in its appeal to scholarly articles or documentation. I can't see it being applied to fiction or most non-fiction.
No publisher would touch it over the long term because it limits their control of the work, and their profitability. And who has the money to publish their own book with wide enough dissemination to be profitable, as in, to be a career re: authors? Not many people.
Still, it's interesting, so I voted +1 SP. Maybe someone who knows more than I do about book publishing will have something to say.
I am a disruptive technology.