I. A. Richards, Principles of Literary Criticism
It is curious that in a supposedly highly literate society a U.S. hardcover is one of the top 25 bestsellers for the year if it manages to sell only 115,000 copies--about 1/20th of 1 percent of the population. Gone With the Wind sold 21 million copies over 40 years, but 55 million people saw the first half of the television movie . Roots sold 5 million copies over 8 years, but 130 million people watched 8 episodes of the television version. The television shows A-Team and Dallas drew 40 and 37 million viewers per episode.
The U.S. has an estimated 13 million illiterate adults. Since talking books deemphasize literacy, they may move us closer to preliterate societies and help to enfranchise the illiterate, the dyslexic, the blind, the sight-impaired, the disabled, the elderly, and the young. For publishers this means that sales could be higher.
Many believe that the U.S. is facing serious education problems. Every year 700,000 high-school students drop out, while another 700,000 graduate unable to read; the percentage of graduating high-school students has dropped every year since 1984 . The social problems causing the drop out are serious and severe and most are unrelated to books, so electronic books are no cure-all, but they may help reverse the trend.