Have We Reached the End? asks Boris Kacka, of the publishing industry in the US. Among other problems he cites drastic fall in the number of independent booksellers following the rise and rise of Amazon.com, the imminent demise of Borders, the challenge of dwindling readership, and the enormous advances paid to authors which are never recouped. (Among the flops of legendary proportions - Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games and Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons).
The demise of publishing has been predicted since the days of Gutenberg. But for most of the past century—through wars and depressions—the business of books as jogged along at a steady pace. It’s one of the main (some would say only) advantages of working in a “mature” industry: no unsustainable highs, no devastating lows. A stoic calm, peppered with a bit of gallows humor, prevailed in the industry. ... Survey New York’s oldest culture industry this season, however, and you won’t find many stoics. What you will find are prophets of doom, Cassandras in blazers and black dresses arguing at elegant lunches over What Is to Be Done. Even best-selling publishers and agents fresh from seven-figure deals worry about what’s coming next. Two, five years from now—who knows? Life moves fast in the waning era of print; publishing doesn’t.
Carolyn Kellogg on the LA Times blog doesn't reckon it's quite as bad as Kacka makes out.