SLATE by Dan Kois May 5, 2024

hose of us who believe in the power of books worry all the time that reading, as a pursuit, is collapsing, eclipsed by (depending on the era) streaming video, the internet, the television, or the hula hoop. Yet, somehow, reading persists; more books are sold today than were sold before the pandemic. Though print book sales were down 2.6 percent in 2023, they were still 10 percent greater than in 2019, and some genres—adult fiction, memoirs—rose in sales last year.

But right now, there’s one sector of publishing that is in free fall. At least among one audience, books are dying. Alarmingly, it’s the exact audience whose departure from reading might actually presage a catastrophe for the publishing industry—and for the entire concept of pleasure reading as a common pursuit.

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