John Scalzi discusses the assertion that publishers don't consider readers as customers. His experience is different:
[H]aving worked with a number of publishers in a professional capacity for a dozen years now, in both non-fiction and fiction, at no time was it suggested to me, either by words or by how my books were sold, that my publishers don’t consider readers to be their customers. To be certain, they are not the only customers; publishers work directly with retailers, who are often but not always the middlemen in the relationship with publishers and readers, and they also work with libraries and schools. But only a foolish publisher is not aware of and solicitous toward its relationship with the reader, who is, after all the ultimate consumer of the product.
John digs deeper into his own experience with traditional publishing, and you'll also find additional feedback in the comments from Teresa Nielsen Hayden, which makes for a good read.