Rumors abounded at the annual BookExpoAmerica, which was held in Los Angeles last week and over the weekend. One of the whispers that depressed even the already despondent book industry professionals further was that Random House (www.randomhouse.com), the largest U.S. publishing house of all, with slipping sales, had hired a "bottom line" CEO to get them out of the red. The book industry has always been a relationship business. It's dependent on whom you know, whom you're getting to know, and publishing contacts developed over the years across the world. The Internet has changed all that. You can be an author or a literary agent or a publisher in Brazil and have your info transmitted to a N.Y. (the center of the U.S. publishing world until now) literary office in seconds. Worrying the most about their place in the industry (and their jobs if slash and burn execs get to be the rule in the book world) are the literary and rights agents. They are the middle people, and you know what happens to the middle when the rules change. The middle anything always get squeezed. Nevertheless, I had a very pleasant interchange with a long experienced international rights agent from the U.K. who shall be nameless. "I've always worked with publishers," he commented. "Over the years, I have established relationships with hundreds of publishers globally, but the book market had gotten too big now. I have to redefine my place in it in order to survive. But I don't know yet what my niche will be, or if I can find even a new way of working." He sounded very worried, indeed, but he was very polite and wore a pleasant smile. I attributed his civility to the fact that he was British, but the smile. "Oh that!" he commented with an even broader grin, "that's the antidepressants talking." Other people are not so worried, especially independent publishers who made up a considerable -- and very innovative -- presence at the show. They've always had to forge their own route anyway and put their money where their mouth is anyway. Nope! No anti-depressants for them. Just same old, same old.