"More readers than ever are reading more books than ever. Yet for more than two decades now, for at least as long as I’ve been in publishing––and certainly preceding the rise of Amazon––the lamentations of publishers and storeowners have filled the land.
There have been little blips along the way when things seemed to be looking up—a Harry Potter series here, an Oprah Winfrey selection there—but overall it’s been a long, sad decline. We’ve been an industry of enablers: giving huge discounts to mollify ailing stores; overstocking books to mollify ailing publishers.
The outcome, more often than not, has been and continues to be shelf space stuffed with unsold product and massive returns. A very few benefit while almost everyone else involved, be they retailer, author, or publisher, suffers.
Now comes something really different. E-books, and the Internet, and with them the prospect of lightning-fast distribution, high efficiency, and minimal, or nonexistent, returns."