I picked this up from a retweet by Richard Nash which said: A must read piece on publishing history … The only history of publishing we’ll need.
He’s referring to an interview with Cambridge University professor John B. Thompson about his new book Merchants of Culture. Thompson spent five years talking with book editors, publishers, writers and agents on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the interview he discusses how the industry got into the parlous state it’s in now and says this has been shaped by three factor: the growth of the retail chains and the revolution in retailing, the rise of the literary agent and the consolidation of publishing houses under the umbrella of large corporations.
I strongly recommend that you go over and read the full interview. It’s fascinating.