(not dead today, but thanks for asking)
(from Cornell University Library's collection)
Because I live in New York and associate 50% – 75% exclusively with people involved in the publishing industry in some capacity, sometimes I forget that people outside my professional and social circles have less of an inside track on this doom&gloom the media is currently projecting on the book industry. Luckily, I occasionally end up leaving New York for a dose of reality, and while at TCAF I was confronted with several people speaking of publishing in the hushed tones one typically only hears in a funeral parlor.
Two cents from me about this whole situation:
Publishing: we're in a time of change! It's becoming easier to self-publish, to self-promote, to work with the internet to make cool things happen. And: how neat is that? More people are reading in different platforms, doing different things with storytelling to adapt to new ways information is being conveyed. We are all for it.
So: with many people jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon, how will readers figure out what books work for them? How do they know something is worth their time and money?
That question has a number of answers, but one of them is this.
Publishers are a quality-guarantee. We stand behind every book we publish and say to our readers: we believe in this. And we back up that guarantee by working with teachers and librarians and retailers and media and conventions and authors and illustrators and readers and all sorts of other kinds of people to make sure that every book is the best book possible and that it gets out to the most people possible.
I work in publishing because I love books; I don't know anyone who works in this industry who doesn't. And you know what all of these publishing people, teachers, librarians, retailers, authors, and illustrators work together to do? Make good books and get them into the hands of the right people.
If you took my job description and distilled it down into one sentence, it'd be that: putting books and people together.* The way I do that has been changing, but we're adaptable — we'll figure it out. We learn new things every day.
At the end of the day, you know what? People still want good books. And that's what we're here for.
*I note that is an awesome job. Because it is. And also because I have been reading David Foster Wallace and boy, is that a good book, and also his footnotes are contagious.