Updated: 05/07/2013

The Print Media




  Part  V



 The Audience for Books

>>Two-thirds of books are purchased by people over 40 years of age. Readers under 25 account for only four percent of book sales. Book reading is also strongly related to income and education level.

Although it is assumed that education and income will continue to be related to book sales, whether age will continue to be is debatable -- especially with the decline we seen in reading among today's younger people.

The increasing costs of books is also a factor. With the cost of  hardback books now averaging $25 - $35, and paperbacks going for $7 to $10, many people -- especially older people on fixed incomes -- are finding them a luxury they can no longer afford. (Many of these people remember when almost all paperback books were 25-cents each.)


Talking Books and CD-ROMs

>>People who must spend many hours commuting to and from work often pass the time by listening books being read on CDs. Recorded books are also popular with people with limited eyesight.  Today, talking books are one of the most popular items at libraries.

Another popular outlet for the content of books is interactive CDs or DVDs. Along with textbooks and popular book titles, reference works such as dictionaries or encyclopedias can be put on a disk.

When a computer is used, the computer’s search and cross-referencing capabilities can be used to quickly locate information. Film clips, animation and audio segments are also possible.



>>With only about 75,000 workers nationwide, book publishing is actually a rather small industry. Competition for jobs, especially in the editorial side, is great.

Plus, many jobs are now being "farmed out" by publishers to fee lance people who work out of their homes as sales representatives, proofreaders, indexers, artists, and photographers.

The work of photographers (who used to get several hundred dollars for a photo assignment) is being replaced by large stock photo agencies that have huge catalogs of ready-to-use photos.

Typesetters (the people who type up the pages for printing) are often located in foreign countries where labor is cheap. The Internet ties things together in each case.

As a free lance worker you may have the luxury of setting your own hours, working out of your home, and not having to commute to work; but, at the same time you generally can't depend on a regular monthly income, or company-sponsored medical and retirement benefits.

>>Like most of the mass media fields, the book publishing industry is highly competitive. But, those who are talented, dedicated, and persistent can find jobs. In this field is is important to have a love for books and literature, and an understanding of marketing and public tastes.

>> A few writers become millionaires and multi-millionaires when one of their books hits, and remains on, the best-sellers list.

This was the case with Dan Brown and his book, The Da Vinci Code, which we mentioned earlier. Despite Twlight(or possibly largely because of the controversy it caused), it represents one of the major publishing success stories of recent times.

Brown's book sparked several books and TV shows which both supported and attacked his book and the research behind it. Regardless of where people stood on the controversy, it got people talking about Bible history.

>> In 2008, the Harry Potter books and Twilight (followed by successful movies in each case) were the most financially successful books. 


Historical Chronology

and Internet Links

2500 BC

Sumerian clay tablets

600 BC

Papyrus Egyptian scrolls

540 BC

First public library in Athens

5th Century

Great Library of Alexandria destroyed

9th Century

Chinese invent printing


Gutenberg Bible printed with movable type

16th Century

Books spread Protestant Reformation; censorship invoked


Bay Psalm Book published by Puritans

19th Century

Rise of American novelists and publishing houses


Uncle Tom's Cabin published; helps spark Civil War


Comstock founds Society for Suppression of Vice, and initiates expanded censorship


Authors cash in on "banned in Boston" label to promote sales


Supreme Court liberalizes definition of "obscenity" in Roth v. United States


Supreme Court narrows definition of "obscenity" in Miller v. California


CD-ROMs of books start


Consolidation of many book publishing firms into media conglomerates; many workers laid off


Internet used to promote and sell books


Authors and publishers experiment with putting books on the Internet


Electronic books are launched with Amazon's first generation Kindle; other manufacturers follow with their own versions

>>Relevant Internet links:


Library of Congress

Dell Publishing



Random House

In the next module we'll take up the story of newspapers.

Interactive Test

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