Publishers often take it for granted that they are worth it. Authors are sometimes more sceptical. While this has been true for centuries, what has changed is that an ensemble of technological, cultural and business innovations mean professional publishers monopoly on the activity of publishing is crumbling. The question ‘are publishers worth it?’ has accordingly transitioned from abstract concern to genuine worry. This is admittedly a disaster in slow motion. No less than 23 publishers have revenues of over $1 billion. But if publishers cannot prove they are worth it then, for perhaps the first time, there are other options. Forces beyond their control now threaten the business models that sustained them for generations. Publishers now need to justify their existence. Can they do this? If so, how? Are publishers worth it?