The Birth of the
Mass Media
The Development of the Book and
Mass Communication
Books allowed:
 the spread of ideas
 the standardization of language and spelling
 the creation of mass culture
Also helped bring about major social changes.
Early Books and Writing:
 Writing is thought to have originated around 3500
B.C. in the Middle East, in either Egypt or
 Reading and writing allowed information to be stored
and preserved.
 Reading and writing were elite skills held by people
called scribes.
• Pictograph—earliest form of writing was the which
consisted of pictures of objects painted on rock
• Ideograph—an abstract symbol that stands for an
object or an idea:
 Are more formalized than a pictograph.
 One symbol stands for each object or idea.
 Languages such as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese
still make use of ideographs.
 Street signs still make use of.
 Phonography—a system of writing in which symbols
stand for spoken sounds rather than for objects or
ideas; developed around 2000 B.C.
 Alphabets—letters representing individual sounds;
were developed between 1700 B.C. and 1500 B.C.
 The Development of Paper
o Papyrus—a primitive form of paper made from the
papyrus reed:
• developed by the Egyptians around 3100
• tended to crumble or be eaten by bugs
o Parchment—made from the skin of goats or sheep:
• replaced papyrus because it was more durable
o Paper—made from cotton rags or wood:
• invented by the Chinese sometime between 240 and 105
• spread throughout Europe during the 1300s, replaced
parchment in the 1500s.
Books before the Era of Printing:
 Most books in Europe were religious texts handcopied by monks, produced in the scriptoria, or
copying rooms of monasteries.
 Rise of literacy in the thirteenth century increased
demand for books.
 Demand for books greatly exceeded production.
Books before the Era of Printing (cont.):
 Books were still hand-copied one at a time:
• Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales
 By the fourteenth century books were becoming
relatively common.
 Illuminated manuscripts—religious texts embellished
with pictures and elaborate calligraphy:
• aided in the transmission of the message to nonliterate
The Development of the Printing Press
• Printing was invented in China toward the end of the
second century:
 Images were carved into blocks of wood.
 Woodcuts could not be reproduced rapidly.
• Between 1050 and 1200 both the Chinese and the
Koreans developed the idea of movable type:
 With thousands of separate ideographs, printing was
not practical.
• Johannes Gutenberg:
 first European to develop movable type
 developed the first practical printing press by
modifying a winepress
• Typemold—enabled printers to make multiple,
identical copies of a single letter.
• Font—originally referred to a particular size and
style of type:
 today it refers to specific typefaces
 mass-produced type became available by 1600s
• Books and Standardized Language
 William Caxton (1422–1491) helped establish the
rules for the English language:
• worked to standardize word usage, grammar,
punctuation, and spelling
• published books in English rather than in Latin
 Martin Luther:
• translated the New Testament of the Bible into German in
• Books in the New World:
 First printing press in the New World was set up by
the Spanish in Mexico City in 1539.
 Printing in North America began in 1640—
Whole Booke of Psalmes.
 Benjamin Franklin (1731) established one of the
colonies’ early circulating (or subscription) libraries in
• Benjamin Franklin’s lending library:
 Patrons had to pay 40 shillings initially, then 10
shillings a year to continue borrowing volumes.
 Franklin’s patrons were businessmen and
 Nonreligious books that sold well included books on
agriculture and animal husbandry, science, surveying,
and the military.
• Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, published in 1740,
was the first English novel.
The Development of Large-Scale,
Mass-Produced Books
• Andrew Carnegie financed the construction of nearly
1,700 public libraries from 1900 to 1917.
• Serial novels—published in installments, popular in
the 1830s and 1840s:
 less expensive than a whole book
 steady flow of income for publishers
• Dime novels—first paperbacks, heroic action
stories that celebrated democratic ideals:
 popular in the Civil War era, morale boosters
• The steam-powered rotary press, invented in 1814,
could print as many as 16,000 sections per day.
• In 1885, the Mergenthaler Linotype typesetting
machine was introduced:
 Allowed a compositor to type at a keyboard rather
than pick each letter out by hand, thus further
speeding up the printing process.
Buying and Selling Books
• In 2005, Amazon.com—3.7 million titles available:
 giant superstores carry 50,000 to 150,000 titles.
• Publishers—companies that buy manuscripts from
authors and turn them into books:
 20 companies publish nearly 80% of all books today
 regional publishers are buying up small, independent
publishing houses
 international conglomerates buying up major national
publishing companies
The top five publishers in the world are:
1. McGraw-Hill
2. Random House
3. Harcourt Education
4. Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
5. Scholastic
 University and small presses—publish books that
serve a limited geographic or subject area or an
academic discipline
 Vanity presses—print books with the author paying
all the costs of publication and distribution:
• very little return for authors
 The Government Printing Office—One of the
nation’s biggest publishers:
• most of its titles are government reports (9/11
Commission Report was a best-seller)
• Authors:
 responsible for original manuscript, and all changes
leading up to the proof—the print-ready copy of the
• Booksellers:
 The Ingram Book Group—nation’s largest book
• distributes 175 million books and audiobooks to more than
30,000 retail outlets
 Barnes & Noble’s revenues total more than $5 billion a
• in the United States, operates under the Barnes & Noble
and B. Dalton names, along with Barnesandnoble.com
• controls about 17 % of the retail book business in the
United States
• The Textbook Business:
 Barnes & Noble did more than $1.5 billion in business
in 2005 through its more than 500 campus
 Stores give the schools they’re associated with a cut
of the sales.
 With used textbooks, neither the publisher nor the
author get a cut of the sales, only the bookstore.
Books and Culture
• Great Books versus Popular Books:
 The 1850s saw the publication of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
The Scarlet Letter, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Walt
Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
 All were outsold by domestic novels—books written by
and for women that told of women who overcame
tremendous hardships and ended up in prosperous
middle-class homes.
 54.9% of all popular paperback fiction sold in America
are categorized as romances.
 Classics continue to sell:
• Catcher in the Rye, sells about 250,000 copies a year.
• The Lord of the Rings, initially published in England in
1954, has now sold more than 100 million copies (11
million in 2002 alone).
• Harry Potter Breaks the New York Times Best-Seller
 February 2000—first three Harry Potter books were
all on the hardback fiction list
 Publishers’ complained—books aimed at children
were overshadowing authors writing for an adult
 New York Times created a separate best-seller list for
children’s books:
• eventually created three new children’s lists
 Harry Potter had positive effects on the sales of
similar books and increased the number of actively
reading children.
Books and Censorship
• Book Banning:
 In the U.S. most book censorship efforts are local in
 Judy Blume:
• ten books on the Publishers Weekly’s list of the top 200
children’s paperbacks of all times
• controversial topics include adolescence
• message that banning sends to young people upsets
 Salman Rushdie:
• released the The Satanic Verses in 1988
• Satanic Verses banned in India in the fall of 1988;
caused rioting in Pakistan in 1989
• received a death sentence, or fatwa, from Iran’s
Ayatollah Khomeini for the book’s blasphemous content
• forced into hiding by fatwa
• was never attacked, but several people connected to
Rushdie and the book were killed or injured
The Future of Books
• Books and the Long Tail:
 Amazon.com began operations in July 1995.
 The Web was the only practical way to offer the
variety that the company sought.
 The Amazon site tracks customers’ interests through
using cookies.
 Readers likely to use the Internet and have computer
 Finding books online can be easier than finding them
in a bookstore.
• Electronic Publishing and Printing-on-Demand
 Electronic distribution has also become a popular
• allows customers to download titles
 Electronic Textbooks:
• have an advantage over print editions, since textbooks
tend to be updated frequently
• provides for flexibility, still have some challenges
 Printing-on-Demand:
• physical book isn’t printed until it’s ordered
• requires banks of large-capacity printers

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