In the Independent (link from booktrade.info), Boyd Tonkin has an article on the future of British bookselling. And although the word 'British' is in there, it seems to me that much the same arguments apply everywhere else too.
Tonkin takes the view that British high-street bookselling 'now looks suspiciously like a murder victim who has decided to speed up his demise by committing suicide. The pincer movement executed by the likes of Asda [a supermarket] and Amazon has made the cut-throat discounting of a few sure-fire bestsellers the norm -- with all of its risks to future diversity. Far from resisting this assault, the retail chains -- and the corporate publishers whom they now bully - have opted to act as their own Sweeney Todds [a nineteenth-century Englishman who cut throats. Remember the Broadway musical? Wonderful. But I digress.]. At Christmas, stores worked frantically to teach shoppers that the true value of a much-publicised new book with a cover price of £18 or £20 is, let's say, £6.99. It amounts to voluntary death by a thousand cuts.'
He goes on to argue that, given the increasing difficulty of making any money out of high-street bookshop chains, it would be a smart move for publishers to assist the internet booksellers -- rather than complaining about developments such as Google Print and the Amazon 'Search Inside' facility.
Now, as you may have gathered, you won't read anything in the article that you haven't read before -- here, for instance. So why mention it, then? Well, because I find it encouraging that these fairly obvious truths -- obvious, that is, to those without a built-in fear of losing their job, seeing the share price drop the floor, et cetera ) -- are now becoming so unavoidably true that even the mainstream media have picked up on them.
Question is, who's going to get their arse in gear sufficiently soon to benefit from the opportunities? Instead of playing the Ain't It Awful record, over and over again.