Reading is fundamental. It is also a major push behind a lot of schooling initiatives.
But is reading in decline. I doubt it.
Reading literary works can surely be in decline but I think it is obvious that the reading environment has changed. A lot of people spend most of their days reading, but it is things like email, memos and the Web. For all the video and audio on the Web the vast majority of it is still text based. After spending so much time reading in a day it is no great surprise that the average person just doesn't want to read when they get home.
Of course, it doesn't help that something like 300 books a day are published, that is far more then anyone can keep up with and most of them just aren't all that good anyway.
We have over 6000 books in our collection most of which at least one of us have read, except for things like the cookbooks and other reference style books. We try to keep our On-hand To Be Read queue somewhat low though our Amazon wishlist is quite large.
I am part of that 17% group that likes to learn from books. Books condense years, decades, even centuries of learning into something you can springboard off of in a matter of hours. That is the greatest time saver ever and probably the highest return on investment you could ever make.
I like the idea of an ebook reader but they miss some important to me capabilities: Notetaking is important for anything other then fiction, linking to other books and articles and creating blog posts would be fantastic. I use books to synthesis ideas by combining ideas and fitting them together like a Tetris game. Sometimes I hit a paradox and it takes some thought to resolve in my mind somehow being about to write that down would be great.
I am hoping that the iPhone/iPod touch will get a ebook reader and good blog posting software after the SDK is released next month. That could really be useful.
TWILIGHT OF THE BOOKS
Freed From the Page, but a Book Nonetheless
The Passion of Steve Jobs
Books are dead (long live books!) and part 2.
A way to find a public library