The AP report cites many factors, including the shitty economy (thanks, George Bush!) and having to compete with TV, movies, music, and the internet, all of which were apparently just invented last year. I thought of a few more:
1. The fact that culture always wanes when a nation becomes more fascistic. The rise of the neo-con right and the subsequent culture war has given rise to an ugly anti-intellectualism that no doubt has quite an impact on the sale of books which do not contain the words "liberal traitor". Thanks again, George Bush!
2. Shitty books. I dunno, maybe book sales are declining for the same reason record sales declined in the 1980s: because the companies that produce them are putting out piles and piles of crappy product. Just a thought.
3. People are more stupider. I had a big thing here tying it in to George Bush and to marketing and education, but I'm too dumb to remember it.
4. Bad business practices by publishers. The growth of "franchise" book titles, the notion that literature is just idea fodder for TV and movies, the overpackaging and overselling of big authors at the expense of diversity, the rise of chain stores, and the put-all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach where publisher hinge their whole quarter's hopes on one or two big titles have all proved profitable in the short term but disastrous in the long term. What a surprise, too! They could never have seen this coming unless they'd paid attention to every other industry ever.
It always heartens me to realize that the low-paying, disrespected profession I have chosen for myself is likely to be less and less capable of making me a living as time goes by. Ha ha! Writers. We suck.