the kind of reader that made Hughes successful has pretty much disappeared: the aspirational reader who wanted to appear smart about art and music and science but not be treated as dumb by those doing the instructing. This is the same kind of reader who subscribed to the Book of the Month Club, the success of which crested in the 1970s, and the same kind of viewer who made pop TV heroes out of the likes of art historian Sir Kenneth Clark, astronomer Carl Sagan, and conductor Leonard Bernstein. These readers yearned for authority, and experts who had the gift of popularizing a difficult subject could end up, well, on the cover of a newsmagazine. […] Where did this kind of reader go? You know part of the answer, since you are reading this on the Web. The voice of an Authority got displaced by the recommendations and likes of your Friends, a trend that began before Facebook came along but was accelerated by its explosive growth. I’d argue that the decline of the well-paid, medium-skilled job and the diminishing fortunes of the middle class also took its toll; it is hard to care about what makes Goya great if you are reduced to eating Goya beans five times a week.