Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cheap Print "Extra Extra"

Starr. Chapter 4

Cheap print originated in the first half of the nineteenth century in both Europe and the United States. And when I say cheap print, I do mean cheap as in the price of a novel or paper, but also sometimes in the quality of the actual print. During this time in America, newspapers went from six cents to two and book went from two dollars to onle a quarter.

“These were criticized for being cheap in both senses of the word: low in prive and low in taste” (Starr p.124)

Even with this, the publishers actually printed “cheap” versions and more “expensive” copies of the same books. This was in an effort to reach a wide group of people such as the rich and poor, and yes some of the writings were not exactly scholarly but none the less people were being exposed to a new form of communication. However this didn’t quite work as well as you may think. Even if a poor person was able to afford a book, chances were they may not be able to read it. Most poor people tended to listen as someone read a book out loud.

But print was becoming huge none the less and with its popularity growing; eventually more and more people became somewhat literate. Books were cheap and passed on from one person to the next, and people went from reading to scanning and then moving on.


At 10:37 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post.

What are the consequences of cheap print for the expansion of the "public sphere"? Why was cheap print being criticized for being "low"? What was the class dynamic? If cheap print means the beginnings of an explosion of popular culture for a mass audience then the debate over low versus high culture has begun.


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