E-readers and the death of the book: or, new media and the myth of the disappearing medium

2015-11-17T15:17:54Z (GMT) by Andrea Ballatore Simone Natale
The recent emergence of e-readers and electronic books (e-books) has brought the death of the book to the centre of current debates on new media. In this article, we analyse alternative narratives that surround the possibility of the disappearance of print books, dominated by fetishism, fears about the end of humanism and ideas of techno-fundamentalist progress. We argue that in order to comprehend such narratives, we need to inscribe them in the broader history of media. The emergence of new media, in fact, has often been accompanied by narratives about the possible disappearance of older media: the introduction of television, for instance, inspired claims about the forthcoming death of film and radio. As a recurrent narrative shaping the reception of media innovation, the myth of the disappearing medium helps us to make sense of the transformations that media change provokes in our everyday life.