Classy stuff. One of the great challenges of publishing right now is finding a way to spread the word beyond people who already know about and love great words. The truth is I'm enough of a capitalist that my troubles with the New York publishers aren't principled -- I don't care if they're "corporatist" or even sort of evil, really. The ones that sell good books well are fine by me, and most of them manage it a fair amount of the time (not that I've got the time or energy to care). What bothers me is how crap their business plans tend to be.
Publishing today largely depends on the (rapidly diminishing) perception of books as status symbols, proof of education and class. A mixture of guilt and class/educational aspirations is about all we can count on to get people to read outside a very narrow spectrum of entertaining but not especially good books. And, really, we can't count on that anymore either. The problem with major publishers is that, outside the several fashionable categories recognized at any given time, they don't actually believe people want to read. They don't try to grow the market, largely because they don't seem to believe it can be done.
Small and independent publishers are often afflicted with a very similar disease, in that many don't really believe they can sell to anyone other than writers who would one day like to be published themselves. They use guilt and constant, brief cycles of hype to manufacture a sort of pyramid scheme -- buy these books, whether you want these particular books or not, so if someday your turn comes to write and publish one of these books, people will have to buy it. This is not a sustainable model, and it's certainly no way to expand reading, community, and bank accounts (all of which are important to me; I make no apologies for wanting to make some cash, if not a living, on my writing, and to help others do the same). There is a collective failure of imagination, a failure to believe in our work, and often, as a result, a failure to write our best.
Finding new ways to reach new readers won't only allow us the opportunity to show people what they're missing, it will make us better writers, because we will again imagine what our writing can be, what it can do in others' lives, what it can mean to perfect strangers. Projects like Christopher's are an essential beginning in reaching out, in reminding people how much they can love reading, and, in turn, how much we can love it ourselves.