It's like she opened my mind and found something incredibly frustrating, and posted on it.
Lissa Warren has this post on the Huffington Post about how publisher names don't matter anymore. (I came to it via The Reading Experience, btw, which includes a lively comment section about it.) ARGH! I don't know Lissa, but this post is infuriating.
Many readers appreciate small presses and know they can trust what they publish. My partner and I gave $100 to Soft Skull, before they were saved by Counterpoint and were desperate for funds. Soft Skull, in turn, sent us a fun box of books, a very nice assortment. McSweeney's had a similar plan. And McSweeney's, like David Godine and others, has a very recognizable look to it, and puts out books that are reliably consistent. If you love one, you can safely buy another.
If smart readers all agree to do away with any brand loyalty and just don't bother noticing that hey, this great environmental book came from Milkweed, then we can all just hand our money to corporate publishing giants - Random House, HarperCollins, etc.. Trust their editorial departments, sometimes run by marketing experts, to put out books we should read.
And if you're an author, watch where you're publishing. I just got Simon & Schuster's catalogs the other day in the mail, and they were typically schizophrenic. The imprints were interchangeable. And you could expect to have a steamy bit of fiction on one page next to a political thriller the next, followed by a book on dachsunds - this isn't literal, bien sur. As I said in my comment on the Reading Experience, if you as an author write a book that does well for one of these imprints, then you could be supporting the Rush Limbaughs who are having a bad year nationally but are still beloved by the moronic far Right. The far Right gets their offensive book with a limited print run but still priced reasonably, and the publisher doesn't lose money because your book sold through the print run. You could be supporting all kinds of things! It's worth considering.
So don't listen to the Lissa Warren's of the world, and watch independent brands, and support them. Take the article as a reminder to look at the spine and/or the title page, and show some loyalty. It'll mean good things for publishing and for your future reading lists.