Some in a position to know believe the economy has affected the public's spending, but even before the current recession, industry professionals worried that consumers were finding their entertainement and information in other forms of media. I don't know if studies have actually shown younger generations to be less interested in reading, but it does seem logical given the amount of time people now spend on computers, video games, and television. Many feel that storytelling must simply adapt to the technology through the e-book phenomenon. And they may be right - e-books are showing significant growth and gradually becoming a more sustantial part of publishing.
A few weeks ago, however, one of my new colleagues at Echelon Press called my attention to a video that deals with a young person's view of books and publishing. I'm not sure the film is any kind of answer to the future of publishing, but it does, at least, present an interesting way of thinking about the field as it may be seen by teens. Just be sure to watch it all the way to the end. http://bookblips.dailyradar.com/video/the-end-of-publishing-created-by-dk-uk?