I found Caleb Crain's article in the New Yorker very unsettling because so much of the writing is on the wall already.
Poll after poll is showing that around the world, people are reading less than they did in previous decades in the face of increasing exposure to visual media.
The report compiled by the National Endowments for the Arts is just one piece of evidence Crain considers to conclude:
We are reading less as we age, and we are reading less than people who were our age ten or twenty years ago.He doesn't think that reading will die out altogether, but points out that:
... some sociologists speculate that reading books for pleasure will one day be the province of a special “reading class,” much as it was before the arrival of mass literacy, in the second half of the nineteenth century. They warn that it probably won’t regain the prestige of exclusivity; it may just become “an increasingly arcane hobby.”And this will have implications for the way we are able think and the whole way our brain is wired.
And perhaps too for the whole way society operates, because as the NEA survey discovered:
... readers are more likely than non-readers to play sports, exercise, visit art museums, attend theatre, paint, go to music events, take photographs, and volunteer. Proficient readers are also more likely to vote.(Thanks Umapagan for forwarding the link.)