Volume 14, No. 2
April 2002

Mercurial Matters

SHOT 2002 in Toronto

Graduate Student Bonus

Survey of Local TV History

News of Mercurians and their Projects

Citizens (Band) of France Unite!

Printing a Revolution?

The End of Books

Reading Red Ochre: Parting Thoughts on Mixed Receptions

Dishing It Up: Really Big Antennas

Journal Announcements

Communications Under the Seas

Contact Us

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The End of Books

“It was in London, about two years ago, that the question of ‘the end of books’ and their transformation into something quite different was agitated in a group of book-lovers, artists, men of science and of learning, on a memorable evening, never to be forgotten by anyone then present.”

Thus began “The End of Books” in Scribner’s Magazine in August, 1894 (vol. 16, issue 2, pp. 221-231). It wasn’t digital communication technologies that worried the “book-lovers” then, according to author Octave Uzanne. It was sound recordings that seemed to challenge print’s viability and vitality.

You can find this evocative and wonderfully illustrated essay in two formats in the medium that some fear threatens print today. Karla Tonella has created an HTML version of the original article for the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies website at <>. To give visitors the benefit of seeing the dozen drawings from the article without having to wait for all of the article’s pages to download, Tonella has created a web page just for them within the site. One of the most imaginative drawings, “Reading on the Limited,” depicts a passenger train car full of well-dressed Victorian men and women called the “Pullman Circulating Library.” Each person sports earphones that look very much like today’s all-too-common contraptions, except that these are hard-wired to portals on the side of the car.

In addition, Tonella offers an eclectic collection of recently updated links to articles both popular and scholarly, from a century ago to recent. Other links include the American Museum of Radio, the Dead Media Project, Inventing Entertainment at the Library of Congress, American Memory project, the Media History Project, and, which is “Dedicated to the preservation of early recorded sounds.”

Tonella also provides a link to the second treasure trove for locating “The End of Books,” the Cornell University Library’s fabulous resource, Making of America, <>. Searching for “end of books” here will take you to a location with the facsimile reproduction of the entire volume of Scribner’s Magazine that contains this article.

book and eyeglasses