The publishing blog Pimp My Novel has a few pointed notes about the now-standard author advances, including a consideration of whether foregoing advances would help publishers/authors/readers:
There are many arguments for and against the no-advance model, but I think it's best summed up as follows: publishers will be much more willing to take risks on new authors if they don't need to pay an advance, but since this removes the "we paid for this and we have to make it work" pressure, many a publisher may reduce the amount of time, money, and effort spent on marketing these books. While a no-advance model would likely result in a higher royalty rate for the author, it won't do much good if net sales are damaged by a reduction in in-house support.
Of course, the issue doesn’t end there. Twitter has been abuzz (or atwit, or atweet) with conversation about the topic. It may be kind of insider-y, but hey now we’re on the inside, too. Thanks, uncle internet!
(Thanks, The Rumpus.)
Source: Pimp My Novel