Social media may help some titles, but word-of-mouth has to start somewhere; if no publishing company had gotten behind many authors (I could venture to guess that this would include Mr. Covey) in the first place, their books would never have been discovered by even a segment of the mass market.
A direct-to-Amazon approach might work for e-rights sales by name authors (though I'm curious how much Covey's sales will be impacted by not offering the e-book for sale anywhere except Amazon), but this is something publishers will likely make a priority at the negotiating table.
As you (and your authors) continue along this ominous frontier, it seems wise to make sure your actions don't negatively impact not only your relationships with longtime business partners and allies, but the rest of the industry. It is one thing to be a leader, but another to lead others into a dark cave where a lion awaits.