Book

Faith in Reading

David Paul Nord

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195173116
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835683 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195173112.001.0001

Series: Religion in America

Faith in Reading

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In the years after 1815, a few visionary entrepreneurs decided the time was right to launch true mass media in America. They believed it was possible through new technology, national organization, and the grace of God to place the same printed message into the hands of every man, woman, and child in America. Though these entrepreneurs were savvy businessmen, their publishing enterprises were not commercial businesses. They were nonprofit religious organizations, including the American Bible Society, American Tract Society, and American Sunday School Union. Faith in Reading tells the story of the noncommercial origins of mass media in America. The theme is how religious publishers learned to work against the flow of ordinary commerce. Religious publishing societies believed that reading was too important to be left to the “market revolution”; they sought to foil the market through the “visible hand” of organization. Though religious publishers worked against the market, they employed modern printing technologies and business methods, and were remarkably successful, churning out millions of Bibles, tracts, religious books, and periodicals. At the same time, they tried to teach people to read those books in the most traditional way. Their aim was to use new mass media to encourage old reading habits. This book examines both publishers and readers. It is about how religious publishing societies imagined their readers. It is also about reader response — how ordinary readers received and read religious books and tracts in early 19th century America.

Keywords: mass media; religious publishing; market revolution; printing; Bibles; tracts; reading; reader response; nineteenth-century America

Book.  222 pages. 

Subjects: Christianity

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Faith in Reading

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Millennial Print in Faith in Reading

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The New Mass Media in Faith in Reading

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The New Mass Media in Faith in Reading

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The New Mass Media in Faith in Reading

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How Readers Should Read in Faith in Reading

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How Readers Did Read in Faith in Reading

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Epilogue in Faith in Reading

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