Tom Spurgeon has a long post on how he, if he was "emperor of comics" would fix things. It’s interesting and covers a range of topics from awards (Keep the Eisners, nix the Harveys) to direct market retailers to digital strategies.
I attended the Small Publishers panel at SPX this year and it was interesting — it included someone from Sparkplug, Buenaventure, Bodega, (and one more publisher I can’t remember this sec) but not encouraging. It’s not surprising that it’s a barely profitable to profitless business (all four panelists were hoping that growing back catalogues would eventually sustain their business) but it was also revealing that there is a great deal of art and guesswork to making a go of it. There were different approaches to selling through AMAZON, various levels of website-driven sales, different ideas on marketing. All I think had a background in working for larger publishers and all said they were doing it for the love of comics.
I’ve sometimes given thought to getting into publishing but I would certainly do it from a web-heavy approach. One of the publishers that seems very savvy so far is AVATAR which is handling Warren Ellis’ Freak Angels comic and I suspect will sell massive amounts of the print collection driven by the comic’s serialization on the web.