Faith in Reading: Religious Publishing and the Birth of Mass Media in America

Paperback | September 15, 2007

byDavid Paul Nord

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In the twenty-first century, mass media corporations are often seen as profit-hungry money machines. It was a different world in the early days of mass communication in America. Faith in Reading tells the remarkable story of the noncommercial religious origins of our modern media culture.In the early nineteenth century, a few visionary entrepreneurs decided the time was right to reach everyone in America through the medium of print. Though they were modern businessmen, their publishing enterprises werre not commercial businesses but nonprofit societies commited to the publication oftraditional religious texts.Drawing on organizational reports and archival sources, David Paul Nord shows how the managers of Bible and religious tract societies made themselves into large-scale manufacturers and distributors of print. These organizations believed it was possible to place the same printed message into thehands of every man, woman, and child in America. Employing modern printing technologies and business methods, they were remarkably successful, churning out millions of Bibles, tracts, religious books, and periodicals. They mounted massive campaigns to make books cheap and plentiful by turning theminto modern, mass-produced consumer goods. Nord demonstrates how religious publishers learned to work against the flow of ordinary commerce. They believed that reading was too important to be left to the "market revolution," so they turned the market on its head, seeking to deliver their product toeveryone, regardless of ability or even desire to buy. Wedding modern technology and national organization to a traditional faith in reading, these publishing societies imagined and then invented mass media in America.

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In the twenty-first century, mass media corporations are often seen as profit-hungry money machines. It was a different world in the early days of mass communication in America. Faith in Reading tells the remarkable story of the noncommercial religious origins of our modern media culture.In the early nineteenth century, a few visionary...

David Paul Nord is Professor of Journalism and Adjunct Professor of History at Indiana University. He is also Associate Editor of the Journal of American History. Nord's research interests revolve around the history of journalism, religious publishing, and readership.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:September 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195335783

ISBN - 13:9780195335781

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Finger of Providence, 18151. Religion and Reading in Early America2. Millennial Print3. The New Mass Media: Economic Foundations4. The New Mass Media: National Institutions5. The New Mass Media: Systematic Distribution6. How Readers Should Read7. How Readers Did ReadEpilogue: Fragmentation and DenominationsAppendixNotesIndex