Reigning theories among children's authors on why the literary trade picture book market has basically tanked:
(a) celebrity picture books
(b) mass market picture books (ie., Disney tie-ins)
(c) chains burying the indies
(d) the decline of school/library budgets
(e) the increased emphasis on testing
(f) a natural dip in the age 4-7 reader population (this is closely related to the idea that baby boomers are saving for retirement and don't have grandkids yet)
(g) the economy
(h) competing media
(i) the growth of bargain outlets
(j) an undervaluing of children's literature
(k) parents expecting five year olds to be reading Harry Potter
(l) a combination of the above...
and if so, the big questions are:
(1) which are cyclical
(2) which are around to stay
(3) what, if anything, can we do about the latter.
If you have an opinion or new theory, write me. I'm taking an informal survey.