As one who lives in the book industry, I constantly hear that “no one reads anymore.” I also hear the bitching of how Stephanie Myers, Snooki, or any other phantom menace is dumbing down those who do read, and that we’re losing culture, tradition, smarts, whatever the fuck you want to call it.
Most of all, I hear how eBooks are “ruining” literature by lowering the bar of entry and flooding the market with crap (f.y.i., “crap” is defined as “books that were not edited by someone in New York who sits in an office in an expensive Manhattan building”).
According to Gallup surveys that date back to 1949, the number of people who are “currently reading novels” has gone up steadily since 1952. There are many reasons for this, the biggest one being the same reason books hit the masses in the first place — technology and accessibility. Thanks to the Internet, physical books ship anywhere. And now, with eBooks, there isn’t even “shipping” anymore: you can get exactly what you want, at the lowest cost in history, and get it from just about any place on the planet.
If the data-gathering methodologies are scientifically sound and reasonably accurate, reading rates are going up. If you don’t like what people are reading, that’s your problem, not mine.