This is strange to say, but observation bears it out: Almost all publishers and most booksellers and librarians neither know nor care anything about books.

Publishers don’t have a clue as to what is a good book or even a good-selling book.  Whenever you run across a book by a new author that is a popular and/or critical success, you find that it was turned down by 20 publishers before it saw the light of day.  On the other hand, there must be hundreds of thousands of unsold books remaindered or pulped every year that publishers produced with big printings and big hype.

Academic presses are the worst of all.  Nearly everything published by the major academic presses these days is a nonbook—a reality- and culture-challenged useless mess of discussion of some previous useless mess of discussion—guaranteed to be unreadable and unread.  This is made certain by the standard procedure of sending out manuscripts for review by the current fashionable “experts” in the subject area.  The reviews are without exception predictable, hackneyed, and lacking in any real judgment.  Even worse, reviewers often hint that the work could be published—if everything original and worthwhile is taken out and it is altered to agree with the interpretation that the “experts” have already established as the acceptable view.

Booksellers and librarians, at least those at the levels of decisionmaking, are also clueless.  The promotion of new books is now almost completely under the control of chain stores, like the now-defunct and archaically named Borders.  Doubtless many of the workers know and love books, but they are prisoners of a system of computerized blockhead marketing that ensures that any really worthy new book will never reach the public.  The decisionmakers are motivated by the bottom line, which would be unobjectionable if they were not so stupidly insensitive to quality.  One suspects that they must get a kick out of the feeling of dominion and triumph that comes with selling somebody a fancy package containing something worthless.
Librarians, I fear, are victims of that old truism that familiarity breeds contempt.  I have witnessed more than once a librarian’s refusal to preserve something rare or valuable because it did not fit in with his own specialist hobby horse.  A “rare-books librarian” I once knew, an imported “expert,” discarded some unique 19th-century newspaper and journal volumes because they were not “literature.”  There was only one other copy of the volumes in existence, and they were vital to the history of the state, having been acquired by some wise and long-dead genuine scholar.
Public and college libraries have for some years now been systematically discarding books of substance and quality and filling the shelves with junk.  The upside is that the discarded copies can be bought, often cheaply.  Public-library discards make up most of my library, along with contributions from an old friend, a bibliomaniac whose long-suffering wife made a rule that, for every book that came in, one had to go out.
The excuse for this cultural genocide is the need to make space, but that excuse is about as truthful as the latest interview with a politician.  What is happening is that a whole era of knowledge, from the early-19th to the mid-20th century, the great era of Western scholarship and literature, is being expunged, so that the cultural horizon of the present and future generations will be truncated to the politically correct perspective.  True, a great deal of important material is being preserved in cyberspace, and that is a valuable achievement.  But unless one already knows what is there, it will not be found.  It is not like browsing the old-time library shelves to discover good books you have not yet known existed.