Did you know that books were among the very first commercial Christmas presents? That’s right—printed books were integral in helping to invent the modern, consumer-oriented Christmas holiday. Before then it was customary to give food or, if you were wealthy, a monetary “tip” to those who were less well off financially. (The latter might come to a rich person’s door and demand the “tip,” in fact.) The gift of a printed book changed all that, helping to defuse the class antagonism that typically rose to the surface around the winter holidays.
You can read more about the details of this fascinating history in my post from a few years ago on “How the Books Saved Christmas.” And if you’re interested in a broader history of the role books played in the invention of contemporary consumer culture, then you should check out The Late Age of Print. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, it makes a great gift.
…then you’re bound to like Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed, compiled by Laura Heyenga and just out from Chronicle Books. The cover features one of Cara Barer’s striking book photographs—and if it looks somewhat familiar, it should. Another of her amazing images appears on the cover of Late Age.
And, in other important news, don’t forget—ONLY TWO MORE DAYS REMAIN to download an e-edition of The Late Age of Print for a tweet or Facebook post. Don’t miss it! The freebie will be gone as of August 1, 2013.
…that The Late Age of Print makes an excellent course text? With chapters on Harry Potter, Amazon.com, e-books, Oprah’s Book Club, and more, it’s chock full of relatable material for college undergraduates. Graduate students will appreciate the subject matter, too, along with the rich theoretical and historical context the book provides. If you teach courses on any of the following topics, then you might want to consider adopting Late Age:
- Media History
- Literary History
- History of Technology
- Communication History
- Book History
- History of Reading
- History of Literacy
- History of Print
- New Media
- Cultural Studies
- Popular Culture
- Everyday Life
- Digital Humanities
If you teach a class using The Late Age of Print that’s not listed here, I’d love to hear from you! I’ll be sure to add it to the roster.
And, in other important news, don’t forget that ONLY SIX DAYS REMAIN to <a title="Download The Late Age of Print" href="http://www additional resources.thelateageofprint.org/download”>download the e-edition of Late Age for the small “price” of a tweet or Facebook Post. Yeah, for real. Do it before time runs out!
Fair warning: there’s just ONE WEEK LEFT to download the e-edition of The Late Age of Print. It will only cost you a tweet or a Facebook post. Beginning August 1st, 2013, if you want the book, then you’ll have to buy it—in other words, for money!
This link will take you to the download page.
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy. And while you’re at it, why not put a little goodwill back into the world. Help support The Late Age of Print and my wonderful publisher Columbia University Press by liking the book’s Facebook Page, posting a review, assigning it in your classes, or, heck, even choosing to buy a physical copy. My kid needs to eat, you know.
Just a quick post to direct your attention to an article by David Streitfeld, published on Friday, July 5th in the physical edition of the New York Times (and published online a day earlier). It concerns Amazon.com’s prices, specifically with respect to independent and university press books.
I’m calling attention to the piece for several reasons. First, it raises important questions about Amazon’s role as a cultural intermediary in the wake of Borders’ demise, Barnes & Noble’s slide, and the ongoing shakeout of independent bookstores. Second, I happen to be quoted in the story. Here’s what I had to say, echoing some of my points in Chapters 2 and 3 of Late Age, in addition to the Preface to the paperback edition:
“Amazon is doing something vitally important for book culture by making books readily available in places they might not otherwise exist,” said Ted Striphas, an associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington. “But culture is best when it is robust and decentralized, not when there is a single authority that controls the bulk of every transaction.”
When Mr. Striphas’s book, “The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control,” first appeared in paperback in 2011, Amazon sold it for $17.50, the author said. Now it is $19.
“There’s not much competition to sell my book,” Mr. Striphas said. “The conspiracy theorist would say Amazon understands this.”
Needless to say, the rest of the piece is worth the read, too . My thanks to David for giving me the opportunity to speak to this important issue.
Columbia University Press is holding its annual spring sale, and by sale, I mean S-A-L-E! All CUP titles, including The Late Age of Print, are now 50% off. (The deal is for North American orders only. Sorry, rest of world!) Here’s the link to the Late Age page on the CUP website; just enter the promo code “SALE” when you check out to get the discount. Get it while it’s hot…and cheap!