This is a charming book, which I just wrote a nice review for and then closed the page. Doh.
It covers the history of "Print Culture" for more or less the past century, from the first rise of what we now call the "trad publisher" over the small private press, through to the early 2000's with the big box book store and the Oprah Book Club and the early days of Amazon. There's a pretty good look at the real effect that big book store chains like Barnes and Noble had on indie bookstores (apparently, remarkably little, despite all the naysaying and gloom). Amazon on the other hand, is probably going to kill off both, as well as trad pub.
There's also a look at the "taste leader" phenomenon, writ large and personified by Oprah. Now this I found interesting, because it's a wonderful example. Just because a book blogger or GR or BL reviewer's reach isn't Oprah-sized, doesn't mean the same basic dynamics don't come into play.
It's really nicely written, easy to read, and I can quite recommend it if you can find a copy. Like anything involving people and technology, it's going to date, but as a snapshot and history of a time when big print publishing owned the world, it's pretty comprehensive.
Half a star off for being US-centric and apparently not noticing. I don't mind if you want to hog the baseball, just don't say you're having a world series, you know? If you're US focussed in an academic text, just be up front and say so.
But it is, overall, quite a fun read.
And I'm still quite enamoured of the little section I used as a status update earlier, below.
Reading progress update: I've read 35 out of 187 pages.
Regarding early publishing industry attempts to discourage library borrowing:
"Among Bernays’s more intriguing strategies to “increase the market for good books” was to have his institute sponsor a contest in the spring of 1931 “to look for a pejorative word for the book borrower, the wretch who raised hell with book sales and deprived authors of earned royalties.” Bernays drew his inspiration for the contest from another term that had been introduced into the American English lexicon in 1924, namely, “scofflaw,” which originally referred to a “‘lawless drinker’ of illegally made or illegally obtained liquor.” To judge the contest Bernays convened a panel of three well-known New York City book critics: Harry Hansen (of the New York World-Telegram), Burton Rascoe (formerly of the New York Herald-Tribune), and J. C. Grey (of the New York Sun). Among the thousands of entries they considered were terms like “book weevil,” “borrocole,” “greader,” “libracide,” “booklooter,” “bookbum,” “bookkibitzer,” “culture vulture,” “greeper,” “bookbummer,” “bookaneer,” “blifter,” “biblioacquisiac,” and “book buzzard.” The winner? “Book sneak,” entered by Paul W. Stoddard, a high school English teacher from Hartford, Connecticut."
I kind of like the idea of being bookaneer or a biblioacquisiac :)