Jane Mack's post on my post got me thinking. (And how incestuous is the internet?)
I've been reading dire predictions of the demise of books since I learned to read. Publishers have figures to show it-- I won't Google the stats this time-- and an amazing number of people tell me they don't read books.
A little elitism here. So what? An amazing number do read. Every American can vote, except for President, and about half do. That's about how many read literature. (There's probably a lot of overlap, but no, I don't necessarily think they're the same people.)
The need to be distracted, amused, entertained is deep-rooted in our psyche. I read a Buddhish guru years ago who said Americans even need to read in the bathroom because they don't like to be alone with their thoughts.
Our distractions of choice are television and the internet. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. There are great TV shows and the Librarian of Alexandria would envy what's available on computers. Trashy reality shows and trashy web sites are there because someone expects them to draw people. Que sera, I don't read Romance novels.
OK, the reading decline is steepest for young folk, and that's bothersome. I was reading a biography of Red Smith, and in his foreword New York Times sportswriter Ira Berkow said he hadn't read much of anything in High School. Knowing that, and reading his book, I feel safe in saying he will never match Red Smith. It's difficult for me to imagine a good writer who isn't also a reader.
I would expect a lot of people to return to the book fold for one reason or another, just as (hopefully) their online adventures will progress beyond My Space and World of Warcraft.
Also hopefully, beyond the world-wiki-web. Motto: If it's wrong today someone will correct it tomorrow.
Myself, I'm revving up for Dave Attel's revival of the Gong Show on Comedy Central. I've often said I'd only run a karaoke bar if you could make them stop doing that.