The story begins, "Picture books are so unpopular these days at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., that employees there are used to placing new copies on the shelves, watching them languish and then returning them to the publisher. “So many of them just die a sad little death, and we never see them again,” said Terri Schmitz, the owner."
One reason is that parents are pressing kids to read up. The article highlights a mom who says her 6 1/2 year old is a reluctant reader. "“He would still read picture books now if we let him, because he doesn’t want to work to read,” she said, adding that she and her husband have kept him reading chapter books." [Full disclosure: that made me wince. I want kids to see books as fun, not work.]
Another reason is cost. I did an event the other day with a bunch of authors, and I was surprised that many of their books cost more than my hardcover novel-length book.
A third is the growth in YA. From the article: "“Young adult fiction has been universally the growing genre,” said Ms. Lotz of Candlewick, “and so as retailers adapt to what customers are buying, they are giving more space to that and less space to picture books.”"
Read more here.