Some quotes from the article:
(Stuart) Applebaum says that Random House remains committed to book tours as its "primary instrument for book promotion," but he also states, "The lousy economy is not inhibiting our book-tour decision making as much as the decline in available appropriate local media outlets. If we can set up a respectable number of worthwhile interviews and appearances for our authors, ones that have some potential to move the sales of their book, we most likely will encourage their visit to that city."
Author events have greatly increased the visibility of local bookstores, played a significant role in their being transformed into informal community centers. . . Crowded monthly author calendars enhance a bookstore's reputation in the city, ensure some foot traffic, too.
Thanks to Publisher's Lunch for the link.