Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Download The Late Age of Print

One of the defining attributes of the late age of print is the erosion of old publishing certainties. Among them is the notion that the free circulation of book content leads inevitably to lost sales. Another is the belief that strong, proprietary systems are the best way for publishers and authors to secure value in their intellectual properties. Maybe it's too soon to let go of these notions completely. It's fast becoming clear, however, that they cannot be taken for granted any longer.

There are two ways of responding to the erosion of old certainties like these. One way is to dig in your heels, hoping to keep familiar ground from shifting under your feet. The other is to allow the erosion to expose opportunities that may have been buried underfoot all along. With the latter you risk coming up empty, but with the former you risk something worse -- inertia.

I'm pleased to report that my publisher, Columbia University Press, isn't one of those digging in its heels. It's taken the bold step of releasing The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control not only as a copyrighted, bound physical volume, but also as a Creative Commons-licensed electronic book. You can download the e-edition by clicking here. The file is a "zipped" .pdf of the complete contents of Late Age, minus one image, for which I was (ironically) unable to secure electronic publishing rights.

I thank Columbia University Press for releasing my book electronically under a Creative Commons license. In doing so, it's embraced the extraordinary spirit of openness that is beginning to flourish in the late age of print. Mine is the first book the Press has decided to release in this way. Here's hoping that many more will follow.


Jonathan said...

Just downloaded it. From a quick look Columbia did a great job with typesetting and layout.

Too bad for me (but I suppose good for them) that there is no good way to read it on a portable device. I'm still waiting for my hard copy from

Ted Striphas said...

Yes, the book really does look great. Columbia did an amazing job with both the form & the content.

This whole PDF thing has been a learning experience for me. If nothing else, I've discovered that "portable document format" evidently isn't all that portable by today's technology standards. Weird.

I hope your hardcopy arrives soon from!

Thivai Abhor said...

Thanks Ted, for releasing it this way. I purchased a print copy, but will also refer to the electronic edition. The 3rd and 4th chapters are excellent. As a labor activist I appreciated your exploration of the material labor behind the supposed cyberstore Amazon and your rethinking of Oprah's Book Club. As a humanities professor, who doesn't have TV at home, it helped me to appreciate her cultural effect more.

It has been a decade since my grad school cultural studies, your intro worked as a good reintroduction to key works... I'm looking forward to finishing the book.

Ted Striphas said...

Thivai--Thank you so very much for the compliments, and for both downloading and buying the book. I'm especially pleased you liked chapter 3, which is probably my favorite and really what holds the whole book together (at least as far as I'm concerned).

Jenifer said...

It seems that contemporary currents in cultural studies..

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