A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

The hard cover book is dead

Marshall McLuhan (1960, age 48/49).  They didn’t want to hear it …

Thanks to my old friend Bernie Muller-Thym, I spoke today, to a group of book publishers meeting at Columbia University.  I told them the news they absolutely need to know.  The hard cover book is obsolete – in short, dead.  From the restlessness of the natives I could tell they didn’t want to hear it.

Me (July, 2010, age 57).   And yet …

It is one of the curious ironies in McLuhan’s life that at that meeting where he foretold the death of the hard cover book one of the editors in the audience came up to McLuhan after his talk to ask him if he would consider writing one for McGraw-Hill.  McLuhan said yes and that book which appeared in 1965 was the best-selling Understanding Media.

For some time now it has appeared that the concept of the book as we know it – the centerpiece and center force of western culture – has been on its deathbed.  Recently, however, some have suggested that e-books and the new electronic readers may give the book new life.  Are they right?  Should Tom Wolfe’s question “what if he’s right?” really be “what if he’s right eventually?”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Philip Marchand.  Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, p. 176.

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Michael Hinton Friday, July 9th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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