The closure of Angus and Robertson and Borders has rather suddenly and destructively destroyed a large part of the Australian publishing industry's value chain.

Capital city dwellers living close to the inner city retain plenty of choice. But out in the suburbs and regions, the picture is bleak. There are now important Australian cities -- such as Rockhampton or Woollongong -- in which there are no general bookshops selling new books. Rocky and The Gong have important regional universities. But no bookshops. How did it come to this?

The story of the destruction of book retailing is a story that has been recounted many times, not least here in Crikey. Kill Your Darlings carried an excellent feature by Matthia Dempsey on the issue recently. But the take-home message is simple: industrial change. To understand why publishers and authors are so worried, it helps to understand the structure of the publishing industry (known in the trade as, well, "trade publishing") as it had developed in the 1990s and 2000s.