I've seen a quote attributed to Steven Jobs several times over the last week, concerning how few Americans read books. I traced it back to an interview with the NY Times in January of this year. Yes, he did say that “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.". As an aspiring writer, I find that depressing as all hell. Please, let him have his facts wrong. Searching further, I can't find what his source for that number was, but I did find a study published in 2004 with data from 2002 by the National Endowments for the Arts. Maybe Mr. Jobs has slightly more recent numbers, because it turns out that 56% had read a book, but that's only if you include non-fiction. If you're only looking at novels, short stories, plays, or poetry, just 46& had read a book. And that's not a steady figure. It's almost 10% than ten years earlier. The closest thing to any good news for a fiction writer in the NEA study is that the actual number of readers has stayed approximately the same because of population growth.
Oh, and if the hard facts that there are fewer people reading literature isn't a dark enough cloud, there's this little tidbit from the study - more people are writing. Goody. More competition.