Since you and I are around the same age, I think I can define the similarities of how the Internet and the brick and mortor shops make up the best of two worlds.
1. Sales on Magic Web Sites - You are right, these are like the Brick and Mortor shops of the past.
2. Message web sites (like this): This is like the old days of writing letters from magician to magician, since normally a message is on one topic to a certain person, except that everyone can 'peek' at the letter and put their own opinion in.
3. One thing you missed was the real time video and audio provided through SKYPE, the messenger clients (MSN, Yahoo, AIM, etc), and the basic peer to peer voice and video over IP technolgy. This is your new meeting place to interact one on one or in a group in real time, wihtout leaving your home. All you need is a webcam and a mic.
For example, if you wanted to show me a move you described in one of your books, we could get on a VVOIP link and you and I could interact, like you do a magic convention or in a one on one session.
I could watch your hands, then you can show me the back view, watch my moves and tell me what Im doing wrong, all in full duplex and real time.
Since the webcam can move, we can get it at any angle.
This is what the new younger magicians are doing. Imagine if we could have had that technolgy when Vernon was alive. Real time training from the Professor, all around the world.
The new online "lecture network' is a first step in that direction, but I see in the near future, a market for the one-on-one or one-on-many interactive sessions that VVOIP provide.
The only thing that has changed is the physical meeting, but that still happens in the local circles... the young people still want to learn magic, and they are using the technology of the 21st century to do it.
We have the best of both worlds now, and I have embraced it since 1979, when we first got on Compuserve (then Micronet) and was able to communicate with the whole world from my home.