There's plenty of speculators out a-speckin' about the death of the author. This is tied to the demise of publishing as a profitable venture. The forecast is pretty dismal.
What I haven't heard a lot of are models for the future. There's foggy talk about eBooks and eReaders, but nothing concrete. Here's my idea:
In X number of years, instead of querying a publisher, writers will
query major retailers of digital content. These retailers will be the gatekeepers, like it or not. They will still accept crap from anyone,
the difference being how the retailers market writers. This will arrive out of a need to sort content according to quality, demanded by consumers frustrated with content bloat (this is already happening).
The cream (sellable content) will rise to the top, the crap (not sellable content) will not. This may not always be ideal, but it's been that way since publishing began.
We're already seeing a handful of digital retailers grab most of the
market (Apple, Amazon, etc). Placing them as content gatekeepers would allow them to claim quality over their competitors. This demand for quality will come from consumers who are overwhelmed by the millions of books available.
What publishing business model do you see taking shape in the future?