Elissa Minor Rust wrote about short fiction and why people don’t read it.
I think that people don’t read short stories for several reasons.
First, people may never have read a fun short story in their lives. What they get in school is literature and most literature, in my experience anyway, is depressing. Who wants to be depressed? So, if they’ve never enjoyed reading a short story, they won’t look for short stories to enjoy.
Second, short stories are much harder to write well. There is less room for error, less leeway in the importance of each word/line/paragraph.
Third, short stories are very dense. They’re not like a sitcom, where the embibee already knows the characters and the relationships of each person, with one or two new walk-ins permitted in the show. Instead, the embibee of a short story has to winnow out relationship information from tiny snippets like “my frog grandmother.” Okay, that lady didn’t like that grandmother. Or maybe she did and the grandmother taught her all about frogs… Short stories may be short, but they are not simple. And for entertainment, simple is better.
EMR’s article found during a Google search on “Americans read.” Random fortuitousness.