We have often heard our parents say that we don't read as much as they used to do it. Is this right? Well, I am not going to question their subjective statistics (maybe it's true), rather I will assume it and contemplate a bit on the reasons.
As an economist, let me use the most popular economic tool, i.e. Supply and Demand - simple as it is. Shocking as it may sound, reading books has become relatively more expensive than it has been in the past. Although cover price of most books may have gone down, the the real cost of reading, I mean spending a lot of time alone with a thick piece of paper in hand, has sky-rocketed. The explanation is quite simple - the opportunity cost. If you are to read a book, you have to give up some of you free time that you can spend doing some stuff with, economically speaking, more utility. To put it simple, you can have a lot more fun in other activities. However, you may say that reading books itself is fun, but is it worthwhile from an I-have-a-good-social-life point of view? Some friends of mine don't have a facebook profile (yet) and whenever they say it aloud, they are always given that look saying: "You gotta be kidding me". What I am trying to say is that substitutes for reading books may be more fun, but sure enough they are better socially accepted.
As a matter of fact, as little as I read, the quality of books has increased dramatically. Not questioning the ingenuity of classic novels, but in my opinion, contemporary books have more dynamics, less boring descriptions of nature and generally they meet perfectly well consumers' (readers') needs. So it's neither the writers nor readers' degradation that is the cause of we reading less. Rather, it's its price.