Have you heard about Google Wave? It's been described as "how email would work if it were invented today." So instead of simply tacking on new features to existing email clients, Google Wave offers a clean slate approach. In fact, it looks like Google Wave will offer a new, intuitive way of communicating while still using some of the email/IM/etc. features you've grown to know and love; IOW, it will offer the best of both worlds.
Think about this now in publishing terms. The Sony Reader is just a convenient way to access books in electronic form. The Kindle took it up a notch by enabling wireless delivery of more content forms, not just books but also magazines and newspapers, for example. At the end of the day though, both of these products still mostly re-render print content in e-form. They don't do much to fully leverage the e-platform, mostly because they're working with content that was built for print, not e-use.
What the publishing industry needs is a product like Google Wave more fully leverages e-content capabilities while still supporting all of the useful features of print. If you haven't watched the Google Wave demo from last week's Google I/O you need to (see below); and even if you can't spare the almost 90 minutes the full demo/keynote required, just watch the first 10-12 minutes and you'll have a good feel for this amazing service. And when you watch it, think about how an approach like the one used for Google Wave would create an enormous splash in the publishing industry (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.)