Um, no. Unprofitable industries need to fold. The bookstores need to fold. Book publishers need to fold. And editors need to fold, too. They need to fold someone else's undies at the laundromat.
There have been millions of books published in centuries past. We don't need any more.
Anon, while I do not profess to be talented at folding laundry (my own or others'), I have to admit you do make one point I agree with. Unprofitable industries need to adapt. If they can't, they deserve to fail.
But I think you will find there are a number of people who don't want the publishing industry to fold, for their own reasons as well as for anything you might say about free speech and/or available media. That's why people like us want to help bridge the gap. (Also, seriously--does anyone who reads this not buy tons of books anyway?)
So what can the industry do to make sure your help is more than just a last-ditch effort? Hopefully this scare will help them (us) revise The System.
Some ideas for you, publishers: (Several of you also commented to this affect, which leads me to believe it must have some sense about it.)
-Lower print runs. Print closer. Don't count on huge laydowns. Sure, it means books are less likely to be bestsellers. But how many books become best sellers anyway?
(which leads to)
-Higher prices. Sure, you've kept prices low, because you wanted to get out as many copies as possible. Instead, be a little more conservative--put a slightly higher price on your book, sell only to the people who want it a little more than average, and make a little more money per copy.
(Besides, higher prices will lead customers to...)
-More online retail. The discount per cover price is steeper on online vendors; if consumers know they can save 30% by buying online instead of buying at a chain store, what's to stop them? Things are going to move in this direction, anyway, so we have to stop counting as much on the physical stores.
(And, dare I say it?)
-Look into solutions to the awful returnable system. Sure, retailers aren't going to jump at the chance to forfeit their sweet returns deal, but how about a percentage cap? Eg you can only return up to 40% of the stock you buy from us per title, or something along those lines. Retailers will order more conservatively, maybe even a lot more conservatively, but the system is so flawed that at the moment they are costing us money and making us none. So really, is it that terrible a solution?
Some of my thoughts.