The L.A. Times article brought out some interesting points like the ad never being widely accepted in the world of books. This is an indication of why many publishers fell upon bad times. They were not taking full advantage of their own media.
Many of the machinery, gear cutting, watch/clock making, etc. related books in my library contain ads in the back of the book for other texts by the same publisher. This is not a new concept as some of my texts are from the early 1900's. I do not understand why this practice was not more widespread. It was done in several magic publications. It is the cheapest form of advertising and gets directed to the desired market - who is already reading one of the publisher's books.
For years I have walked in to the bigger bookstore chains and quickly glanced over their latest "feature books". All the time I was asking myself if anyone was buying all of this crap. Apparently not. Because someone writes a collections of words, does not mean that it should be published.
Reading, as illustrated in the L.A. Times article, is assumed to be merely another form of entertainment. The assumption is that reading must compete with all other entertainment options. This may not be entirely true for a large number of readers. I tend to buy non-entertainment types of books. I will seek out such goodies as The Modern Watchmakers Lathe and How to Use It, the Turret Lathe Operator's Manual, Gear Cutting for Horologists, CAD manuals, etc. I want to extract information from books not escape from reality. I like reality. So for me books are not mainly an alternate form of entertainment but a source of information. Unfortunately, such modern books tend to be superficial and written by someone other than an experienced expert in the field. Therefore, publishers are missing out on selling to readers like me.
This is where magic books come in. Like all books, there are some that never needed to be published. I have a fairly nice magic library and a good number of these books contain incorrect information. I do not like to waste hard earned money on books full of such drivel - distortions of magic history, incorrect methods, etc. I have become extremely picky in the last few years about the magic books that I purchase. To get my bucks, publishers need to provide a good description of the contents of each book. I'm not about to buy mystery magic books. If the book has as little as one item well done that I am interested in, I'll probably buy it. Too many magic books contain nothing of interest to me. I buy magic books like I buy machinery books - for information not entertainment. I am capable of entertaining myself.
There are a number of business concerns affecting the publishing industry which can lead to big losses or insufficient ROI. It's a specialized world which needs to be brought in to the present. Those who can not adapt, will become history. We currently have some very good magic publishers. Buying from them will help reduce inventory expenses so that funds might be available for future great books. In spite of the current fad of buying DVD's, books remain the better investment. One problem in magic is that many of those buying items are lazy. It is easier to passively sit and watch a video than it is to actively interpret the written word (but no where near the fun). Ideally a text and associated video would be offered together in a package deal.