There has been a lot of talk lately about how this industry we all love or love to hate (whatever the case may be) is changing for the first time. That's true in part. It is changing; it's just not the first time. And I think we'd be fools to think that it will be the last time.
Once upon a time, in a land far far away, books were printed in installments, like magazine sometimes even included in something else, even more like a magazine. They were distributed in London and crossed an ocean to the new world. Readers (the few and proud) made a mad dash for the latest installments. It was the pre-television soap opera. It carried a message. It was artistic. It became a classic...IT WAS WRITTEN AS ENTERTAINMENT.
Times changed. The industry caught up with the rest of the world, evolved. With other forms of entertainment becoming accessible and popular and the reading population larger, installments weren't a good option. Today, we like our books bound, preferably in one casing to be completed at our earliest convenience. (This is also the reason classics have a tendency to feel entirely too long and overly descriptive; the repetition once served as a reminder of the last installment).
But what we consider the modern novel has been around for a while. And society like technology has continued to change. Today, we live on phones that are basically hand held computers. We chat in sound bites of exactly 140 characters, and the publishing industry once again must catch up. Agents are now representing self published. Harry Potter has gone digital, and 30% of books sold are e-readers. So the industry will change. True, change is hard, but life will go on like always. And really, change can be good.