Has there ever really been a period in history when the majority of the population was highly bookish?
When people excoriate the new generations for not reading, they're generally contrasting them to a period from about 1750-1980. How many Americans read Common Sense? New Yorkers lining the docks to get the next Dickens serial. A bunch of college-age Democrats assigning a poli sci reading list to each other in order that they might write a coherent Port Huron Statement.
If you were to compare the ratio of literate to literary, I imagine you'd find it at a low ebb.