For years, reading for pleasure had been declining, but perhaps it wasn't a lack of interest in reading that was keeping us from reading, or even time. What if, instead, it was inconvenience? It's hard to develop a love of reading if a variety of books aren't readily available. This is proven from studies showing that children who come from homes filled with books are more likely to be avid readers.
The success of the Harry Potter series showed that kids aren't averse to reading. Sure, they got into the books because their friends were reading them, but it was also because once Harry Potter became big, the books were everywhere. Kids who normally weren't interested in reading were seeing the books at school, the store, the library and even garage sales.
Grocery stores cut back their racks of books, independent bookstores fell to the larger chains, and the chain bookstores were/are usually located in high traffic shopping areas. Libraries are great, but you have to remember to return the books on time. These are just some reasons why reading was less convenient than just browsing the internet or channel surfing through hundreds of TV stations. Could these reasons be contributors to the previous decline in reading?
Way back in Dec. 2010, I wondered if an e-reader encouraged reading and now studies are coming out saying that what I suspected is true. In the last few years, e-readers, tablets, and even smartphones, have changed how we read. Amazon was the big game changer, and it wasn't just because of the Kindle. It was the way you could get a book magically delivered to the Kindle via their Whispernet (basically a free 3G service through first Sprint, and then AT&T) without having to connect it to the computer with a USB. The Nook came along a few years later, and it also used a 3G and then later, a wireless delivery system.
In 2010, the iPad, although not a dedicated e-reader, could function as one and it opened the door to a whole slew of different tablets.
This means that we can browse for a book at the same time we are checking our Facebook. In fact, we can 'Like' various FB pages like Pixel of Ink or Ereader News Today and right in our FB feed, find books on sale or for free. We can even find book reviews via pages like Big Al's Books and Pals. With one or two clicks of our mouse, we can then buy a book and it'll be on our ereader when we're ready to read. With its portability, a tablet/ereader can go with us just about anywhere.
What does all this reading mean for the future? If more people are reading, then more people are being exposed to new ideas, learning about history or other cultures. I don't pretend to know what this could mean long term, but I can only imagine it will be amazing.
Literacy has been shown to be one of the biggest factors in a person's success. If more people are reading, and the more people read, the more literate they become, doesn't it stand to reason that more people will become successful?