What is it about reading, now that people can do it, that they want to do it? If people are social animals, reading is the opposite.
Storytelling is different. There were always storytellers and one can imagine the villagers gathering around the fire to hear Grendel or a Sumerian adventure. There were traveling bards who would earn their keep by entertaining the community and then move onto the next settlement. But that involved others. Reading is so private. Reading is like hanging a sign around your neck stating "Leave me alone".
And while being left alone people want to connect with the characters, be taken on a journey and sometimes they want to be touched.
So what's the job of the writer?