Catherine Shaff-Stump points me to something I had been wondering what all the twittering was about. Seems Galleycat did a little piece about if literary agents are still necessary. See Catherine's blog post for more (and better) rebuttals by other people (including the link to Tobias Buckell's survey results).
See, I guess Amazon had a big powwow with a bunch of Literary Agents to explain how they were not the Evil Empire. There's a bunch of concerns over the Kindle in the writing community, the least of which is the rise of ebooks (rights, subsidiary rights, out of print issues, tracking, and generally heinously fucking around with people, both authors and readers), many writers are quite ready for ebooks. But, hey, nothing a good lunch and inspirational speakers can't fix, right?
Now, Galleycat goes on from there and gets to this logic that because of this meeting, literary agents aren't really necessary anymore. You see, you can "sell" your book through the Kindle directly, or use any of the many epublishing sites out there. So you too can be a "published author." Ain't that great?
Except, uh, no, that isn't the goal (okay, for some people it is, and hey, you've got a quick route to get your fix on that way). Some people are exploring those options and working out the market (more power to them), but there's a vast army of people who "just want to be published." Those people wouldn't have agents to begin with.
Now, Amazon pulls in all these agents to talk to them and assuage their fears of what Amazon might be doing with the Kindle. That sounds to me like Amazon (the instigator in this) believes Agents (and their buy-in) is exceedingly important. No matter what people say, especially in this economy, businesses do not spend money flying people out to wine and dine them if they consider them superfluous. So, to go from that to saying, "I guess they aren't needed in this market because of this meeting," is to have serious LogicFAIL.
Imagine me looking at the Galleycat blog holding my fingers in an "L" on my forehead. As my friend S. Andrew Swann once said, "Logic, you're doing it wrong."