THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY IS CRITICALLY ailing, and no one, from the creator of the written word to the consumer, is untouched. The signs are everywhere, some statistically demonstrable, others less tangible but still manifest to anyone who has been in the business long enough to watch it evolve. Some of the more commonly voiced ones are the following:
The conglomeratization of trade and paperback book publishing
The bureaucratization of editorial decision making
The "blockbuster mentality" and the increased dependence of publishers on big-name authors
The insecurity and instability caused by the buying and selling of publishing companies
The growth of bookstore chains, with their emphasis on current bestsellers
The narrowing ...