Publishing has always seemed to me most like an armed camp--where everyone on the inside has a vested interest in keeping everyone else out on the outside. In other words, it's not that there are barbarians at the gate--we are the barbarians, whom the caretakers of Literature seek to protect themselves from inside their walled off medieval castle.
Because it's not Literature until they say it's Literature. You're not a writer until they say you're a writer--and not before. Even all the watchtowers of heaven were ablaze after Lucifer's ill-thought-out and poorly-timed assault on Almighty God, so also are the gates of publishing becoming more and more inaccessible to outsiders.
Allow me a crude illustration. If Paris Hilton had written my book, everyone would want to read it, if for no other reason than to see if Paris Hilton could write a novel and if so, how well it was done. They're acting as if no one cares if I can write a novel or how well it's done because I'm a nobody and who would want to read a nobody's book? Certainly not the book-buying public. This is their attitude, anyway.
The last book I actually bought was Seamus Heaney's new translation of Beowulf, back in 2000. I stand corrected--I did purchase some years after Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, "Rabbit Remembered" by John Updike which was published in the same year but did not come to my attention until much later. So people such as me would not sustain publishing as a business--it's only the people who constantly need something new.
Speaking of something new, I was going to the mall yesterday but I became so engrossed in the second book that I completely lost track of time. The local newspaper, that I subscribed to since I moved in here almost nineteen years ago, has call me twice now, to get me to renew my subscription. As I've patiently explained to both young ladies, I'm too busy now to even consider reading the newspaper, which I used to read religiously. But ever since I've gotten everybody to the island in my book, I feel as though I'm there as well, removed from the world and all its comings and goings. Maybe if I get someone interested in the first book, that'll pull me back to the real world. In the meantime, they have a crisis on the island, as their monopoly of the aliens' technology is threatened for the first time, so their attention is focused--as is mine.