The truth is, as readers, we have no idea how good a book is when we purchase it, nor can we guess at the quality of what we get, generally, until we read the entire work. Yes, there are publishers (hello, Unbridled Books) who have a tight, focused list that reflects a consistent point-of-view while publishing a diverse list. I love it when I can trust a publisher. I feel the same away about Harlequin. It’s a compliment to both publishers. Readers may not love every book published by these houses, but they know there is a certain focus they can trust. Very few large publishers offer this kinda, sorta guarantee.
Rather than accusing retailers and cheap consumers — and we are cheap, particularly in this economy — of devaluing content, how are publishers enhancing the consumer perception of the value of books?
Are they rejecting crappy books from established authors? Are they offering advances based on reality, the marketplace, rather than fantasy? Are they pricing books base on that same reality? Are they listening to what readers say?