Trends in reading habits

The new report from the NEA claims that Reading is on the Rise especially among young people.

Meanwhile, others are concerned about declining reading habits.  Lorcan Dempsey is concerned about “reading avoidance” and earlier research on  Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship seems to indicate that increasing online availability of scholarly content leads researchers to cite fewer articles in their published work (my earlier thoughts on this).

The general trend in scholarly reading seems to be towards more skimming, reading of abstracts rather than full books/articles, and shorter citation lists.  Should we be worried about this, or should we be happy that digital library collections and tools have helped scholars do their work more efficiently?

I guess the real question is — are new reading habits affecting the quality of scholarly output?  And if so, in what direction?

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