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The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control Hardcover – April 8, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; y First edition edition (April 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231148143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231148146
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,654,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

This collection of historical and commercial analysis should fascinate those seriously involved with book culture and/or the industry.

(Publishers Weekly)

Forget the premature obituaries for books and reading. Striphas insists that books remain a vital presence in the twenty-first century.

(Booklist)

The Late Age of Print is an important history of the book and their impact on (mostly) American culture.

(Sacramento Book Review)

It is rare to say of a university press hardcover that it is a "must-read," but for those interested in the confluence of culture and economics as it relates to books, that is what The Late Age of Print is.

(Richard Nash Critical Flame)

This book is a gold mine of information and thought about book culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.

(Gwen M. Gregory Information Today)

A solid work of scholarship that fills in several significant gaps... Highly Recommended.

(Choice)

A magnificent achievement that makes a compelling series of arguments about the continuing importance of books and book publishing.

(Publishing Research Quarterly)

Striphas does an excellent job.

(Alan Jacobs Books and Culture 1900-01-00)

What is it that you purchase when you buy a book? In describing the answer, [Striphas]is admirably clear about the choices publishers or booksellers made, and why.

(Technology and Culture)

Review

The Late Age of Print is exciting, clear, topical, interesting, and important. Ted Striphas has a voracious curiosity and is a great finder of material. How many of us have reflected on the history of bookshelves or have bothered to understand the mechanics of ISBN numbers or their political-economic-intellectual significance? Who knew the full story behind Oprah's Book Club, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble? This book provides a fine overview of the best English-language scholarship on books and print culture. Tackling the broad meaning of books over the past century, it says something broader about life in our era. Striphas gives the best integrated overview of the book in our moment and participates in public debates about education, literature, culture, and capitalism.

(John Durham Peters, University of Iowa, and author of Courting the Abyss: Free Speech and the Liberal Tradition)

More About the Author

Ted Striphas is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture, Indiana University, USA, where he studies the relationship of culture and technology. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Burcu S. Bakioglu on June 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I maintain that Late Age of Print is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the print media, media ecology, or media studies in general.

Striphas investigates the everydayness of books that he claims is intimately bound with: "a changed and changing mode of production; new technological products and processes; shifts in law and jurisprudence; the proliferation of culture and the rise of cultural politics; and a host of sociological transformations" (5). His main argument is that books had been integral to the making of modern consumer culture in the 20th century, as they were one of the first commercial Christmas presents, and today are responsible in part for the fall of that consumer capitalism into a society of controlled consumption, a term that he borrows from Henri Lefebvre. He convincingly shows that book publishing pioneered the rationalization and standardization of mass-production techniques in that the massive quantities of book production required efficient production processes and the move toward an hourly wage. Ultimately, The Late Age of Print investigates how books have become ubiquitous social artifacts entrenched with the everyday. His book successfully proves that book circulation is, and has always been, a political act because the circulation of books embody specific values, practices, interests, and worldviews (13). And as such, the practice of circulating books embody struggles over particular ways of life.

What does this mean for the late age of print (a term coined by Jay David Bolter to characterize the current dynamic era of book history instigated by media convergence where books remain central to shaping dominant and emergent ways of life)?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith-Peter on March 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This interesting and insightful book is a guided tour of the production and distribution of texts in the late age of print. After an introduction that is probably best skipped if you are a general reader, Striphas begins with a concrete investigation into how e-books are produced and disseminated. Striphas might say that people make books, but not in the circumstances of their own choosing. Throughout the work, he is interested in the larger context and avoids jeremiads about the death of the book, authenticity and so on. In the chapter on e-books, he gets into the technological and legal changes that were necessary for the creation of e-books.

In the next chapter, he argues that big box bookstores may not be killing small independent bookstores and that in some cases (he uses Durham, NC as an example) they may actually be used as part of an attempt to redress long-standing racial inequalities. A chapter on Amazon and internet distribution, which deserves to be widely read, includes a fascinating history of the ISBN. Did you know that the 978 prefix stands for Bookland, the mythical country from whence all books hail?

My favorite chapter, though, is the last one, on Harry Potter. Here, he uses the concept of transfiguration, first elaborated by J.K. Rowling, to trace how Harry Potter has changed when translated (not always in authorized ways) into Chinese, Russian, Belarusian and other languages. This is a real tour de force and worth getting the book for. A conclusion restates the themes of the chapters but doesn't add much new.

This is an excellent investigation of new trends in book publishing, distribution and partly on reception. I would definitely recommend it to those interested in those topics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Hawk on January 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
In The Late Age of Print, Ted Striphas sets his main approach as a nuanced examination of American book culture in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. In doing so, he challenges crisis discourses and laments for the loss of books. Striphas presents a well written, accessible, anecdotal, and effective critique of ideologies behind consumption, control, and transformations in American book culture.

Much of this study relies on the cultural history that Striphas establishes from the outset, emphasizing "the history and conditions by which books have become ubiquitous and mundane social artifacts in and of our own time" (4). By charting book culture from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, Striphas lays out "a changed and changing mode of production; new technological products and processes; shifts in law and jurisprudence; the proliferation of culture and the rise of cultural politics; and a host of sociological transformations, among many other factors" (5). He does so by focusing on various aspects of American consumerism, the book industry, legal history, media relationships, all circulating around attitudes about the value of books in the everyday. With these topics as the mainstay themes of the book, Striphas takes up the topics of American bibliophilia, digital media, big-box bookstores (especially Barnes and Noble), online marketing (especially Amazon.com), Oprah's Book Club, and Harry Potter--all centerpieces of his cultural examinations.

Ultimately, he demonstrates, through several case studies, "how printed books and electronic media can complement one another" through a type of "synergy" in culture (188). Yet he does not insist on ignoring the transformations that have taken place and will continue to occur.
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