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Reading to oneself is a modern activity which was almost unknown to the scholars of the classical and medieval worlds, while during the fifteenth century the term "reading" undoubtedly meant reading aloud. Only during thenineleenthcenturydid silent reading become commonplace.
One should be wary, however, of assuming that silent reading came about simply because reading aloud was a distraction to others. Examinations of factors related to the historical development of silent reading have revealed that it became the usual mode  of reading for most adults mainly because the tasks themselves changed in character.
The last century saw a steady gradual increase in literacy and thus in the number of readers. As the number of readers increased, the number of potential listeners declined and thus there was some reduction in the need to read aloud. As reading for the benefit of listeners grew less common, so came the flourishing of reading as a private activity in such public places as libraries, railway carriages and offices, where reading aloud would cause distraction to other readers.
Towards the end of the century, there was still considerable argument over whether books should be used for information or treated respectfully and over whether the reading of  materials such as newspapers was in some way mentally weakening. Indeed, this argument remains with us still in education. However, whatever its virtues, the old shared literacy  culture had gone and was replaced by the printed mass media on the one hand and by books and periodicals for a specialised readership on the other.
By the end of the twentieth century, students were being recommended to adopt attitudes to books and to use reading skills which were inappropriate, if not impossible, for the oral reader. The social, cultural and technological changes in the century had greatly altered what the term "reading" implied.

The phrase "a specialised readership" in paragraph 4 mostly means:

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