If you want to get a handle on how technology is going to change the world of publishing, I recommend reading Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail (ISBN 1-4013-0966-4). His book explores the impact of online distribution and markets in detail, and I found it hard to put down. In fact, it was his book that inspired me to start a blog.
The phrase “the long tail” has to do with statistics, what they call the “long-tailed distribution”. In reading this book I found I gained a good understanding of traditional and online distribution methods, and the economics of retail shelving.
The good news is, technology is lowering the cost of production so that more writers can publish or self-publish their work. The bad news is, the markets are getting flooded with more books and e-books than ever. So filters (i.e. customer reviews and suggestions at sites like Amazon.com, or reviewer blog sites) are going to be critical to match readers with writers.
As a reader, I feel at times overwhelmed by the number of books being published each year. I long to find new writers to read, but then I get exhausted just thinking about all the books by favorite authors I have yet to get to. Instead of having too little to choose from, now there is too much.