Two links on publishing matters which offer a consistent message from different perspectives:
Mediabistro links to a Businessweek article on the power of the small presses in publishing. Apparently there are nearly 63,ooo of them and they accounted for more than half of book sales (in the US, presumably) in 2005……"by trying out different economic models, small presses such as Archepilago, Toby Press and Akashic can publish a comparatively much smaller run of copies, a practice deemed too costly for the large houses, who must sell large volumes of copies to earn back their advances and stay in the black. And they have deployed innovative marketing strategies in order to penetrate a fickle market."
Grumpy Old Bookman has a long posting containing his usual readable, informed and unique perspective on various publishing-related issues. In this context, I quote: "Yes, once upon a time there were lots of small publishing firms whose editors were interested only in finding good books — a term which was defined as being the kind of book which they themselves enjoyed. Forty years ago, in the UK, it was possible to break even on a novel by selling about 2,000 copies; and you could usually shift that number to the library market. So the average book would more or less pay its way, and the occasional surprise hit would keep the firm in business. Nobody got rich, but writers could be kept going for half a dozen books or so while their promise was converted into achievement.That business has been dead — totally and completely six feet under — for at least twenty years. The library market has virtually vanished, and all the small firms have been bought up and incorporated into half a dozen big (by publishing standards) firms which are themselves tiny subsidiaries of much bigger (and often foreign-owned) companies — companies which expect their small publishing sections to make substantial profits. Not publish literature, but make profits."
"If you want to please yourself, follow your own instincts, and write whatever inspires you, feel free. And when you’ve finished the book, there are lots of small presses and thousands of other ways to seek readers for it."
Useful links provided on the original post.
(Spellcheck suggestion of the day: "modification" for Mediabistro.)