Sure, the birth of the tablet has been largely credited with fall of Borders and the decline of the American bookstore, at least according to the Economist. Yet Google‘s newly released study shows 84 percent of tablet users mostly play games, while less than half read e-books. That means bookstores still may have hope once the tablet novelty wears off … or reading is declining…again.
The National Endowment for the Arts called the decline of reading a national crisis in 2004, but enthusiastically reported a surprise boost in 2009 with more than half of all Americans reading literature. It remains unclear what impact the tablet really will have on American literacy in the long haul.
Every major technology has faced a similar crisis. Radio promised educational and art opportunities as justification for its advancement and led to the birth of popular music. Radio gave Bach to the backwoods and Lady Gaga, too. Television promised the same educational and arts opportunities, giving us Masterpiece Theater and also Kate Plus Eight. We shouldn’t be surprised that tablets offer us Angry Birds along with the complete portable works of Jane Austen.
Perhaps the tablet is the best and latest answer to the problem of bowling alone: you can be isolated as you play your favorite game but look hip instead of lonely.