Reading Response 6


Murphy’s “Books are Dead, Long Live Books” delves into the notion that books are being replaced by new technologies such as radio and television. Murphy goes on to explain how books are not dying out, but are instead still alive and maybe better than ever thanks to the new technologies that many believe are the book’s bitter rivals. She also explains that different forms of media are not competing to replace each other.

Important Points:

  1. “Just as society became acquainted with one new medium, another would come along. Those most directly affected-other than the audience-found themselves repeatedly challenged to divine what would happen on their own medium as a new one appeared.” Pg. 5

This quote refers to the period when multiple forms of media were appearing such as radio, television, phonography, etc. Just as people got used to using one, a new, seemingly better form of media appeared. People, both producers and users, were becoming frustrated because they did not know which one to use.

  1. “’Ultimately, I believe all of these so-called obstacles will redound to our advantage, for surely automobiles and radios and movies…. Stimulate the mind, and eventually when the mind is sufficiently stimulated and in the right direction we have a new book-reader.’” Pg. 5

This quote shows that new media forms are not killing the book’s audience, only changing the reader into someone who will approach text in a different way, due to the impact that other media forms have had on them. Different interpretations and approaches to text will improve books, not bring about their end.

  1. “There is the simple but compelling assumption that media are rivals of each other, competing for a finite amount of audience resources- time, money, and attention. In this view, one medium’s gain is another’s loss; the benefits of one medium enable it to replace another less convenient or useful; one medium fixes a problem that another inadequately addresses.” Pg. 7

This excerpt seeks to dispel the notion that newer media forms are made to eradicate the previous media forms. Staying on this course of logic would imply that the internet was made simply to do away with the book. However, it is very narrow-minded to look at the internet in this way.  This logic also seems to suggest that a reader is only capable of using one form and no other forms.


Confusing Points:

  1. “Thus, the idea that all household communication devices will eventually be housed in a single unit… hinges not only on the eventual acceptance by the consumer but also on industry perceptions of the most lucrative product structure. The unavailability of consumer CD players that can also record is indicative of the force of that mindset. With respect to books, the question may not be whether consumers will continue to buy them; it may be whether media corporations see books as a commodity they are committed to selling.” Pg. 8

This was confusing to me because I did not see how the book was similar to multi-functional digital device that could do multiple tasks. Books, are only capable of showing the reader what is on its page, so I didn’t understand the connection here other than the marketing strategies employed on books and devices.

  1. “’Some people take to drink, or dope. Others go to movies. Others listen to the radio. Others read books. Abut they’re all trying to experience life without going out and actually experiencing it.’” Pg. 6

This quote confused me because it seemed to denounce all the media forms instead of giving support to just one. The fact that this is a quote from a movie producer made it most confusing because they seem to be insulting the thing that they use to make money.


Discussion Question: Why is it that we think there is competition between media forms in the first place? Where did this notion come from?