The headline to this post refers to a suggestion made by Steven Poole in his Guardian review of Ted Striphas’s new book, The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control. Poole remarks on Striphas’s nerd-like fascination with “the mechanics of how books get into the readers’ hands.”
In opening the review, Poole writes:
That “late” might sound a bit ominous, but we still are in an age of print, a claim borne out by Striphas’s indefatigable rummagings around in oft-neglected aspects of contemporary book culture. He moves smartly from the depression-era promotion of home bookshelves in America to modern visions of ebooks, or from the invention of the ISBN number to Amazon’s frighteningly efficient systems for getting more labour out of their workers. He contextualises, too, the “big-box” booksellers such as Barnes & Noble (inventor of the “book-a-teria” in the 1940s): as Striphas digs behind the hand-wringing headlines, it is not so clear that they inevitably put independent booksellers out of business; and they do also revitalise local economies, such as that of former tobacco town Durham, North Carolina.