I have known you Ted for a while, and like you I have been in the speaking business since about 96. So your point is actually very very valid. It is completely insightful. However, it is just telling things as they will be progressing.
From 98 to around 2001 I was the RD from Germany. And from one day to another I dropped being an RD because I had a midlevel meeting with the Visual Studio management and wanted to talk about Open Source. My point was that Open Source was going to eat into Microsoft's business. Open Source did not just eat into Microsoft's business, but EVERYBODY's business! This is not a Microsoft problem. But I realized it was going to change the industry from bottom up. End result it DID! What this means is that it is very very difficult for any company to sell software.
At the time it did not hurt my speaking, training, or book authoring business. But then around 2003 or 2004 I saw a shift happening. I saw how Google was becoming a destination and not just search engine. And it was at that time I saw another shift. I wrote one of the first Ajax patterns book and the sales of that book just did not do as well as I was expecting. It made me wonder, and made me think. One possible answer was if the quality was good. Fair enough I am not a great book author (at least not like you Ted, and I mean that seriously), but for my expectations things did not go as planned.
What I figured out was that I and many other people use Google to research and learn topics. And because there is so much free content on the Internet nobody really bothers to buy. Sure some do, but not the youngsters. That made me concerned and made me think.
Then almost 4 years ago I made a decision to switch fields. Yes I would still do some speaking gigs (as I really like to be at the conferences), but decided I need a new revenue stream. It was the financial field, namely investment banking. In the past I had worked at other banks (usually wrote the mortgage algorithms) and liked this field. EVEN now with the market down the demand for my skills are UP! I have PLENTY of work, there is no lack of jobs! It is surprising how resilitant my business has been. I did not even do any advertisements and I got clients knocking on my door asking for my help.
Why? Because I have good computing skills. It seems that the quants, and algo traders are good thinkers, but could not program themselves out of a wet paper bag. So now the banks and clients want skilled programmers who have knowledge of the business. And that's me.
Summing it all up, I think you are right Ted, the death of the professional speaker is among us. Just as the death of CNN, (twitter), mainstream media (bloggers), and as such the tech industry. It is changing and we "professional speakers" have to adapt, or die... I chose adapt and have not looked back... Maybe you need to as wel...