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Chapter 2: BOOKS. A. The nature of language B. Writing as a communication technology Implications for the use of writing Implications for the use of print C. The evolution of written documents D. Books as a mass medium E. The publishing industry. The nature of language.

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Chapter 2: BOOKS

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Chapter 2: BOOKS

A. The nature of language

B. Writing as a communication technology

  • Implications for the use of writing

  • Implications for the use of print

    C. The evolution of written documents

    D. Books as a mass medium

    E. Thepublishingindustry


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The nature of language

  • Arbitrariness: There is no necessary or logical relationship between the words we use and the objects these words refer to. The relationship is based on social agreement.

  • The linguistic sign: relationship between signifier, signified, and referent.


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Writing as a New communication technology

  • Sight dominance in the learning process: a shift from a moving mouth and a resonant ear to a quiet hand and a reflective eye.

  •   Words moved from the world of sound to that of space.


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  • Helped humans move from a memory based to a record based mode of being.

  • For oral cultures, the past is not itemized, it is a way to renew awareness of present existence. Matters from the past that do not entail any present relevance are commonly discarded.

  • For literate cultures, the past is an itemized terrain, filled with true and disputed facts.


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Print Technology mode of being.

  • Helped create the new cult of individualism: bibles and the protestant movement.

  • The birth of new forms of art: e.g. novels.


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The evolution of written documents in the history of the world. They provided a paradigm for uniform commodity culture from the 16

  • First transition: lengthy scrolls made of papyrus

  • Second transition: books with bound pages with writing on both sides and hard cover


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Books as a mass medium press that could make large numbers of identical copies.

  • Books fit our definition of mass media: their messages are produced by professional communicators and are transmitted via printed pages to a large and diverse audience.

  • Books differ from other media: are not supported by advertising. In movies, there is product placement.


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The Book Publishing Industry than the audience of a sit. com. (situation comedy) during a single day of television.

Book publishing and commercialism:

  • Most publishing houses are privately owned businesses, what they offer the public is determined by a sharp focus on profits.

  • The issue of consolidation of ownership

  • Book publishing looks less like an intellectual enterprise and more like any other modern industry.


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The publisher’s Role than the audience of a sit. com. (situation comedy) during a single day of television.

  • To select and help shape what will be published.

  • To produce the book as a physical artifact.

  • To advertise and distribute the book.


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Types of publishers than the audience of a sit. com. (situation comedy) during a single day of television.and types of books

Types of publishers:

  • Some companies focus on a general topic: medicine, law, fiction, art, religion….

  • A few companies focus on « instant » books.

    Types of books:

  • Trade, textbooks, children’s, reference, technical and scientific, law, medicine.


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The key people in the production and distribution of books: than the audience of a sit. com. (situation comedy) during a single day of television.

Authors, editors, book manufacturers, bookstores, sales personnel.

Authors: an important resource, and yet are outsiders in the publishing world. They receive a substantial advance (against royalties), ranging from few thousand dollars to few millions.


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Royalties are some agreed-upon small percentage of the publisher’s earnings. Authors may receive additional income if the book is truly successful, and may even get movie and television rights.

Authors use literary agents to get them contracts with publishers. The agent receives about 15% of the author’s share of earnings.


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Editors publisher’s earnings. Authors may receive additional income if the book is truly successful, and may even get movie and television rights.

They work on the author’s original manuscript:

  • Development editors: organize the book effectively and help make its statement on the topic effective.

  • Acquisition editors: generates ideas for books and look for able and willing authors.

  • Copy editors: check the spelling, syntax, grammar….

  • Other editors develop illustrations and design the print style, cover, and format of the book.


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Book manufacturers, bookstores, and sales personnel publisher’s earnings. Authors may receive additional income if the book is truly successful, and may even get movie and television rights.

  • Publishers contract with printers and binders.

  • Sales representatives persuade independent bookstores to carry the company’s books, school boards to adopt them, college and university faculty to assign them.

  • The publisher’s work is analogous to that of a movie producer.


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The Publisher as Entrepreneur publisher’s earnings. Authors may receive additional income if the book is truly successful, and may even get movie and television rights.

  • New York City, the capital of publishing houses. Just 2% of the U.S. publishers account for more than 75% of book sales.

  • Marketing techniques used: direct mail, telephone marketing, Web sites, professional meeting displays, book clubs, and magazine ads. Virtually every promotional device used to market other products has been tried.


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The Digital Future of Books publisher’s earnings. Authors may receive additional income if the book is truly successful, and may even get movie and television rights.

It is unlikely that books printed on paper will become obsolete.

Recent changes in retailing:

  • « Mom and pop » bookstores are rapidly being replaced by megastores operated by national chains.

  • World Wide Web had simplified book purchasing: You no longer have to walk or drive to a store, you can order the book online and have it delivered to your house. (Amazon.com)


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Printed Books via the Internet publisher’s earnings. Authors may receive additional income if the book is truly successful, and may even get movie and television rights.

  • Some bookstores have the ability to download the content of a book and print it on the spot for the customer.

    Result: all that’s needed in an electronic database. No need for a warehouse full of printed books, no need for shipping to the retailer, and stocking large inventory. No losses on unsold books.


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