The publishing world is reeling from the advent of Pottermore and the news J.K. Rowling has ditched her long-time agent. Apparently, the stratospherically successful author of the Harry Potter series (the first volume of which was rejected by twelve publishers, according to lore) retained the digital rights to her work and is now cashing in, sans publishers.
What does all this portend? Besides the gnashing of teeth heard round the world at the loss of such a fortune by her former agent and publishers, that is.
Time to speculate. Interestingly, the Guardian recently published a piece about self-publishing and its rapid ascendency as a preferred path for authors. Compelling arguments were made for the self e-pub route. And from a financial standpoint, it certainly seems to make sense for a new author facing the enormous barriers to publication via the traditional route and the likelihood that if successful will languish among the midlist, to consider self publication.
But there's still the problem of access. It's all fine and well if the goal is to sell books (of course that's the goal). Many people still get books from their school or public library, however, or from a bookstore. Until those gated communities welcome the self-published, there is still a huge benefit to the traditional route -- if the goal is to be available to the full audience.