Simon Owens disconnects books from publishers. The fate of one, he says, is unrelated to the fate of the other.
The Economist discusses the future of the book, more encompassing (a warehouse of data) and bias but with less insight as Owens's assessment. Interesting format, though, to knock home a point.
Here are my thoughts that I haven't seen addressed. Note: I do not have definitive ideas but food for thought. I am free to change my mind:
About 15 years ago, the big worry was about Borders/B&N killing independent bookstores, which was killing midlist writers. Writers were having careers destroyed by these bookstore giants. They'd order books and successively undercut. The tenor of the time was that the big-chain stores must be stopped. Support independents!*
The dominance of the big-chain stores have disappeared due to Amazon, which you would think that would get the writers to applaud, but The Economist above cites it as an evil presence killing the midlist. Is that true? No real evidence bolsters this opinion.
Some claim the resurgence of independent bookstores. I'm not sure about this. They seem more like general purpose entertainments--books, music, games, movies. Maybe that's a good thing.
Midlist writers can now publish their backlists. Everything. Some publishers may somehow still own all rights to books. A particular writer has books 20+ years old, and apparently cannot republish them, which seems bizarre to me. If a publisher hasn't done anything with a book for twenty years...?
That said, some have legitimate beefs with Amazon. It'd be nice to read an honest assessment, an honest weighing of all evidence and perspectives. Is our society capable of unbiased assessment?
* I blush that I haven't often done this (bookstores, that is. I've long supported small presses). But I haven't often had the money. I did what I could. But the high cost of books raises another question: Is literature a rich man's game? It seems more so now with literary magazines requiring fees to submit. Is literature excluding the voices of the less financially fortunate? Perhaps my perspective would alter were I running a literary magazine.