I think the saddest thing that ever happened in the book industry was the gradual devaluing of editors and all they stand for – their high standards, their belief in readers, their ability to nurture authors, their love of language, their patience, their dedication, their eye.
And most of all, their power.
This is a perennial discussion. Truthfully, I don’t know if standards are falling. (An interview in the Collected Paris Review with editor Robert Gottlieb suggests that, in the fifties, the industry was harking back to yet an earlier golden age.) I would certainly present this sentiment — that editor’s aren’t what they used to be — as the obverse to one good thing about small publishers: you’re more likely to get that personal touch.