Tuesday, August 05, 2008

2.1 Literacy and Print Culture in the UK

I am amazed at the contents of the Newsagents in the UK. First, the diversity of publications: in addition to the kind of global magazine selection you might expect at the crossroads entry point to Europe and the crossroads of a former global empire, the diversity of magazines produced for consumption within the UK is boggling.

Don't even get me started on the comics: shelf after shelf after shelf aimed at the "youf," licensed properties, mostly, packaged in baggies with toys to entice. Kids must read comics all the time here.

But newspapers -- so many daily newspapers, it's frightening. Some are clearly softcare porn, others are clearly sensationalist, and a staggering number appear to be real newspapers.

Some of this is economies of scale, of course -- the population is denser, so competing newspapers are more viable. But I wonder how much of this, too, is that by virtue of being denser, English publishing houses can set lower prices, ennabled by the lower cost of transporting the magazines, perhaps? How much of an American magazine's cost is represented by distribution over 2,000 miles?

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