The tough part is that of the small number of writers who have the drive and discipline to finish a book, an even smaller number have the talent, wherewithal or personality to design the book, print it and then market and sell it. I know some published writers, and a small publisher, and the numbers are still tough. Even if we democratize the system, as Graham says there isn’t the same life and death need to read, compared to eating. A couple of generations have downloaded music and learned to think it should be free. Why would it be any different for books?
The one thing that changes the equation a little is that a writer who self-publishes a kindle book and then does their own marketing can make the same money charging $5.00 as the writer who finances the cost of printing their own paperbacks or hardbacks and then charging $15–25.
Here is a great publishing resource for those who want to their books printed on paper: http://www.ingramspark.com.
They are much cheaper than Amazon’s Create Space, and can even do short run hard cover books. However, the advantage with Create Space is that your book gets printed and shipped on demand, so you don’t have to put up any up-front money.
I’m learning how to create my own EPUB formatted book (for Kindle and iPads) and will share that info as I go. Also, as a graphic designer, I have designed a ton of books for some authors, and would extend those services to my friends at Medium.