This piece by Andy Beckett in the Guardian at the weekend is worth reading. It's a good potted history of the UK book trade over the last 100 years. It's devilishly difficult to work out whether things are better or worse. A part of me thinks he didn't make enough of the collapse of the NBA which led to a vicious circle. Publishers and retailers colluded to let that agreement go, which allowed the supermarkets into the book trade in a big way which in turn forced publishers to give the massive discounts that they now complain about.
But equally more and more people are reading now because of the supermarkets' invovlement in bookselling, and that has to be good.
One point everyone surely has to agree on though is that the front-of-store in chain bookshops has become dull. Same same same. Where are the surprises?