I am thinking about the process of reading as actually a process of collaboration. Certainly it is a form of communication. That people read deliberately to take in ideas and information can be assumed.
Reading (or even listening to recordings, films or broadcasts) is a form of dialogue between at least two people. If the authors are multiple and more than one person reads the text in question, then it is a discussion among many persons. Because ideas are never stagnate, the reading combined with the exchange of ideas can be understood as a collaboration. Whatever the motives of either the author or reader, ideas are stimulated and communicated. A writer or team of writers puts herself/themselves in the position of being the primary speaker who speakers to the reader or readers. The reader can answer back. The reader can contact the author(s) directly or put an answer to writing or voice in one form or another and indirectly give a response, such as in a review or other kind of editorial, or as a reference in one’s own text, film or recording. A response can come up in everyday conversation or letter writing as people share their experiences and opinions and the topic of some kind of writing comes up. It can come out in a classroom, where the instructor uses a textual material or film, or cites it in a lecture, or it is a topic or reference in debate or discussion.
People seek experiences and knowledge through reading, and film viewing and audio recordings. Even if they just desire entertainment, they receive ideas that stimulate the mind and emotions. Knowledge and thereby culture is passed along, not just passively received but acted upon and changed because people process and exchange the ideas being delivered.
It is reasonable to say that people seek knowledge when they read. We want children to go to school mainly to learn to read and write so that they have skills of communication and can engage with society, be acculturated and grow as fulfilled humans. In Western societies, it is expected that they develop opinions and engage in discussion, the exchange of opinions and information. It is expected that they thereby contribute to knowledge production and accumulation.
This is actually collaboration. They consult those who have presented ideas, absorb and process them to reflect and, in turn, put out further ideas. They must work together, communicating with others, in order to participate in learning at all.
Therefore, there is a “market” or demand for textual and other forms of knowledge materials. It is a limitless and never-ending exploit. Once writing begins and others are taught to use the tools of writing, a bottomless well of knowledge is opened up and the waters released.
Do not worry about the fate of books these days just because a variety of learning and communications tools have sprung up. Nothing will stop the creation, exchange and consumption of art and knowledge. The added tools give us more options for forms of creations, that is all. In fact, as harbingers of social media would no doubt say, they provide more opportunities for the process to go on.
People are extremely outraged at any attempt to curtail or plug up the well of knowledge and stem the tide of discussion. It is deemed anti-democratic and even repressive to try. It is anti-social and cruel, most people would say. In fact, it can be interpreted as a matter of life or death. Being able to exchange knowledge and discuss is living, and is therefore considered a right by many figures in the world—something worth investing in, treasuring and defending with all one’s might.
Teachers, veteran writers, literacy advocates and publishers are all indispensable figures in ensuring that writing goes on. They must collaborate with each other and with actual or potential readers to fulfill this role.