How the books saved Christmas

“Books may be going high-tech this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean, as some fear, that we’ve abandoned the cultural and economic habits they’ve helped to foster. Our Kindles and Nooks may appear to be pointing toward the digital future, yet if anything they channel the deep structures of our analog past.”—Ted Striphas

Amazon has its Kindle and now Barnes & Noble has its Nook and both retailers are heavily promoting their e-readers this holiday season. This leads Ted Striphas, author of The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control, to wonder in a post on his blog, “where are printed books in all this?” He continues, “Is all this holiday focus on digital reading yet another sign of the impending death of print — by which I mean not only of the technology itself, but also of the broader culture that surrounds it?”

Citing Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas, Striphas reveals in his post and in his book that Christmas used to be “a raucous affair in which members of the lower castes of society were given temporary license to make unusual demands on social and economic elites.” However, this changed in the nineteenth-century, “Among the first and most popular commercial goods to be given as Christmas presents were, according to Nissenbaum, printed books. Books played a starring role in helping to make Christmas over into the commercial holiday that people know and practice today.”

(Of course, if you want to continue this tradition visit our special offer on holiday gift books—sorry we couldn’t resist….)

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