I often wonder if printed books will disappear altogether from American society. The production of e-books definitely supersedes that of printed books today as e-readers and tablets have become more prevalent among American society. Whether or not members of American society seek to read books via print or electronically should not be indicative of literacy.
What could be indicative of a decline in literacy is the fact that the percentage of Americans reading a book has declined. Pew Research revealed that 25% of American adults had not read even a single book in the year 2013. This is believed to be a consequence of American culture turning to TV and the Internet rather than books.
The number of adults who had not read a book is still a great deal less than the 75% who had. That is fantastic news. Even better, a NEA 2012 survey found that the decline of young adults reading for pleasure has not continued on a downward slope. So, there is hope for American literary culture.
Harper Lee is due to release the novel “Go Set a Watchman” which was written before her “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The release of this novel has generated a lot of attention this past week leaving me to assume that America is still a literate society. While pondering about how well this novel will be bought up, I am left to wonder if traditional book-length works will survive in a society where culturally we no longer find the time to sit through a traditional book-length novel (100,000+ words). After all, this is a time where smartphones take up a majority of just about anyone’s time. That being said, it may be inevitable that traditional books fall behind the new wave of micro-fiction, flash-fiction, and short stories in the future.