The great thing about the internet is the absence of gatekeepers.
Writing becomes a wide open marketplace within which people buy and sell according to what they like, dislike or are just willing to try. Of course, the flip side is that the market pays so little, but I’m not sure that most writers ever made more than a modest living from their work.
They do say that people are going back to actual books after a spike in online publishing from the likes of kindle over the last few years, but I reckon that’s like saying people are going back to vinyl after years of owning iPods. Maybe. Perhaps.
I remember my gran had a thing called a radiogram, which was a big hardwood box with a radio and record player inside. It was powered by valves, which give a lovely warm sound, and the parts that weren’t made of wood seemed to be made of bakelite, and it had a 12″ speaker. Gorgeous. But I don’t see anyone reproducing that sort of thing any time soon. Likewise, I visited an Edwardian school/museum a few weeks ago and there were dusty racks of books on topics as diverse as running paper-chases and stalking animals in the countryside, and interpretations of passages and texts from the bible. None of that means anything to anyone now.
So I don’t think books are going to make a ‘comeback’ any more than radiograms or bible-study texts written by ernest clerics, they haven’t yet gone away. They’ll be around for a long time too, because one thing that gatekeepers are good at is producing easy-to-consume genre fiction, which is fine by me.
But unless someone pulls the plug, online fiction is here to stay.