Despite fears that the so-called electronic media — especially radio, television, and videos — might damage book publishing, the opposite seems to be true. Book sales since the introduction of television have increased considerably, well beyond the increase in population. In fact, the U.S. leads in the number of books read per capita. These books range from the most recent best seller or biography to histories, gardening and cookbooks, or technical volumes and encyclopedias.
Several reasons have been offered to account for this fact. First, American schools have traditionally stressed and tried to develop a "love of reading," to make it a habit. This general educational emphasis has been successful. One notes how many people are reading hooks — not only newspapers or magazines — in city buses, airports, during: lunch breaks, or on the beach. Secondly, public libraries have always been very active in communities throughout the country. Here, too, the general policy has been to get books to people rather than to protect the books from people. A favorite way of raising money for libraries is to have thousands of used books donated by the community and then to have a book sale ("Any five for $11"). The money made in this fashion goes to buy new books for the library. Such popular community fund-raising activities also increase the feeling among people that the library is theirs.
The third and probably most important reason is that there are no laws which protect book sellers or fix prices. Anyone can sell new and used books at discount and sale prices, and just about everyone does. Very early, books were sold every where, in drug stores and supermarkets, department stores and 24-hour shops, through book clubs and by colleges, as well as in regular book stores. Many university book stores are student-owned and run. They operate on a nonprofit basis, that is, all profits go towards keeping the prices of books down, for paying the student employees, and often to support student scholarships and other financial aid. Then, there are the large "paperback supermarkets* located in most shopping centers, which sell mainly paperback books on a variety of subjects. These, too, have done a great deal to keep the book trade healthy and growing. Nationwide radio and television shows, new movies, and filmed versions of books have often helped to create spectacular book sales.