I tell you what: writers who worry about piracy are missing the point. Piracy isn't what's going to amateurize science fiction. We're gonna get amateurized by the same thing that turned writing poetry into a hobby instead of a business: competition from more robust forms of media; our bastard progeny (games, comics, movies) are going to eat our lunch like fast mammals moving into a bronto's ecological niche.
If there's any hope for sf, it's that it appears to be the only genre (apart from technical books) that anyone in internetland thinks highly enough of to bother pirating. Save for that shining fact, I'd be willing to just call the industry a walking zombie and start looking for some other form of semi-skilled labor, like dentistry or writing advertising copy.
The number of books sold dropped by nearly 44 million from 2003 to 2004, even as the annual number of books published approaches 175,000.Link (via O'Reilly Radar)
''People are reading less, so what you're seeing is the same phenomenon that has hit magazines and newspapers, a massive shift toward home video, DVD, internet and cable,'' said Albert N. Greco, an industry consultant and a professor of business at the graduate school of Fordham University.
The Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit research organization, reported estimated sales of 2.295 billion books in 2004, compared to an estimated 2.339 billion the previous year. Higher prices enabled net revenues to increase 2.8 percent, to $28.6 billion, but also drove many readers, especially students, to buy used books, Greco said