About the Author:
Ted Striphas, author of the book The Late Age of Print, is currently an Associate Professor at Indiana University. He also the author of a blog called The Late Age of Print. You can find his blog at http://www.thelateageofprint.org. He has written, co-authored and been the editor for several books and articles. More information can be found on his blog.
About the Chapter:
In this chapter, from The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control, the author discusses “the history and social function” of e-books and books (pg.22). He then “traces how concerns about the ownership, circulation, and reproduction of printed books helped fuel a fear that latter had become troublesome with respect to expanding capitalist relations of production in the final quarter of the twentieth century” (pg. 22) and how it relates to e-books.
He first describes the social beliefs around writing and reading, expanding on those around e-books. He writes about e-books, “…the problem with e-books may have less to do with boredom, habit, or the authority of authors and their words than with their grounding in a logic of representation. The intellectual history of reading and writing technologies consists, as it were, of laments about the apparent incapacity of these technologies to represent or manifest fully—the word...” (pg26). He explains that over the years each new technology was seen as not as good as the one before. Therefore new technology should be looked at from a social and historical viewpoint.
He describes that many American publishing companies/industry saw and see information as a product, a way to make capital. He demonstrates this claim by citing several examples of mass marketing of certain books and the promotion of bookshelves in homes. He also demonstrates how ownership of books became a symbol of middle-class identity and only through consumerism could one reach that identity.
He describes the issue of ownership and reproduction of books as constant concern of the publishing industry. Issues like resale, lending and photocopying were a concern because it decreased their ability to make money. Just like books, publishers are concern with the ownership, circulation, and reproduction of e-books. Much like books, publishers are limiting what can be done with e-books. Publishers now control what a user can do with an e-book after purchasing it.
Striphas, Ted. "E- Book and the Digital Future." The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Controlt. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. 19-46.
T Striphas (n.d.). The late age of print [Web blog] Retrieved from http://www.thelateageofprint.org/bio/