So, maybe folks are buying them, but not reading them?
OK, not terribly funny. Probably, a lot of that increase is from HP and the Deathly Hallows, so good luck next year, Books-A-Million. What I want to know is, do these folks who never read books read something other than books? Magazines, newspapers, comic books, websites, cereal boxes. . . And if so, why get on their case?
Yeah, books are great, but they're just one form of informing (non-fiction) and story-telling (fiction). Mr. Potter's creator J.K. Rowling is a good example of the fact that being a great story teller pays better than being a great writer. Some folks like their story telling to be visual, which is why we have Hollywood. So long as those people who like their stories in book form keep buying them, there should still be a book publishing industry. I'm not convinced we were ever a nation of book readers. It's just that now books are only one option out of many.
And I can't bring myself to wish for fewer options.