On Crimespace today there is a discussion about an article written by yet another publishing industry insider who just can't imagine a world without gatekeepers. The thesis seems to be that the publishing industry has nothing to worry about in the brave new world of ebooks, because (GASP!) the consumer will never be able to handle it when they are inundated with tons of junk among which is only a little good stuff.
You know. Like the way the world has been for ten or twenty years now.
The consumer now deals with a slush pile as a matter of course. Whether it's the web, or cable TV, or the mall, or Amazon dot com, or a grocery store with twenty-five different kinds of tomatoes (not including canned), we've long been in a situation where we have to choose the one thing we want out of thousands of things we don't.
Amazon was built on that principle. They wanted to be the world's largest bookstore - the bookstore with every book in the world. (And now every thing in the world.) Apple's motto for the iPhone - "There's an app for that" - also typifies the consumer experience these days. It's not about sorting out the junk anymore, it's about finding exactly what you want.
That's the thing that traditional publishing doesn't get. We don't actually care about the thousands of books we don't want. We don't care if they are well-written or awful. We only care about finding the books we do want. And we learned to do that a long time ago - word of mouth, browsing a sample, taking a chance once in awhile, using Amazon's suggestion tools, Google searches. (Or for that matter, I'm sure there IS an iPhone app for that if you want one.)
So give us some credit, Publishing Professionals. The slush pile is here, and has been here for a long time. Heck, the stuff you publish is in it, along with the self-published dreck, insane political blogs, cable television, and YouTube videos of cats riding Roombas. You may have a special place in brick and mortar bookstores, but you're on equal footing with "Mittens and his Roving Vacuum" in cyberspace.
The future you fear happened yesterday. We've dealt with it. Maybe it's time you caught up.