When I first read this story in the NYT, I was initially a little skeptical. After all, picture books are such a staple in the lives of children that I couldn't really imagine them not getting sold. Then I thought about it for a minute. I have to admit, I've seen some of the things this article mentions.
I've seen the parents going to the shelves & grabbing a chapter book or something that is clearly beyond the reading level for the child's age range. The parents always say that they read them out loud & attempt to push the child's reading levels up, to which I usually just shrug & ring the item up for them. After all, reading to your child is a good thing. But is it really good to leap over picture books entirely?
Price definitely makes a difference, as many picture books are usually horribly expensive. Some of them can run up in the $15-20 range, something that many parents & buyers might balk at. They want their child to read, but they don't know if they want to purchase a book that is mostly pictures & is about 10-15 pages long. I know that in my store's sale section the marked down picture books do sell pretty well, so maybe it is a matter of price?
Is it because of the age of computers? Nowadays a child can just as easily surf through the internet to get their entertainment fix- my nephews started getting interested in the internet at a young age & educational toys that were focused around the computer helped them adapt to using it pretty quickly. Plus when you add on audiobooks, it's even easier for a parent to push a more advanced book into their child's face.
The one thing that irritated me in the article were the parents who wanted to heavily push their young child out of picture books. While I can understand their concern that their kid might not progress as someone his age should, there's nothing wrong with reading a picture book. Heck, I usually flip through them while I'm cleaning the store or if an interesting new one comes in.
In any case, I'm still a little skeptical that picture books are really becoming a thing of the past, although I can see where there is cause for concern.