Hello, fellow pessimists. I read a lot of the interwebs this weekend, and saw the huge number of comments attached to Nathan Bransford's post about how much publishing houses make off a book relative to the author. And, after reading 200 plus comments, I can safely say (not to any of my readers, because you are all perfect, but to the larger world):
Author folk: you need to chill out.
First, the conspiracy theories have to go. Publishers are not trying to lose money (even when it appears otherwise). And although some of you might be able to do a good job "saving the industry," you are not working in publishing, doing that good job.
Second, while writers make very little money, people in publishing also make very little money. I know people who have worked for travel stipends and for no benefits (those ones are me). I know people who have been working in publishing for years and are technically interns, making an hourly wage (or working for friggin free, people. For free).
The moral here is that yea, mid-list writers make almost no money. But most people who work in publishing make almost nothing. Ten years of publishing experience pays slightly less than a 21 year old college graduate working in finance (did your stomach just curdle? Mine did). And almost everyone in publishing has to stretch that salary in New York City, the most expensive city in the country.
So chill out, drop the conspiracy theories, and don't take it out on the people trying to make a living in publishing. No one goes into book publishing for profit. They do it for free books and the chance to read for work.