For those of you who don't read agents' and editors' blogs, I thought I'd go ahead and post a link to this article in Publisher's Weekly, which has everyone kind of freaked out. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a BIG publisher, has temporarily halted book acquisitions. As in, it has directed its editors not to buy any more books (from agents and authors) for now. Book sales are down and the bad economy has been especially rough on publishers. Apparently the editors and agents who have been around a while have never heard of anything like this happening.
While I know this is BAD news, I'm trying not to freak about it. I'm not an industry expert, so I'll let the people who are explain this better than I can (plus the comment trails on some of these posts are enlightening):
Agent Kristin over at Pub Rants blogged about it here.
Agent Tracy Marchini talks about it here.
Editorial Anonymous posted an excerpt from the PW here.
Agent Jenny Rappaport at Lit Soup does a little bit of freaking out here.
The Writers' Group discusses it here.
I'll update with more links as I see them.
UPDATE: A reaction article from Galley Cat that sheds more light and includes a few quotes from agent Janet Reid, who also runs a great blog.
MORE UPDATE: Cool-headed lit agent Colleen Lindsay at The Swivet explains why there's no need to panic here.