Understanding the Role of Books in Mass Communication

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to go over how books play a role in mass communication, even to this day. You'll also learn about some of the many different types and categories of books around.


Books. Yes, yes. Some of you probably shuddered at reading that word. In the age of Twitter, YouTube, and the internet in general, books seem to be like something out of the Stone Age.

However, books actually play a very important role with respect to mass communication, the production, receipt, and exchange of information on a large scale.

In this lesson, we're going to go over the ways by which books are used in mass communication as well as some of the general types and categories of books that there are.

Books in Mass Communication

Let's begin by understanding why books are important in mass communication. We can actually begin this discussion by first comparing and contrasting books with, but what else, Twitter and tweets.

1. Books take a long time to produce. Tweets take, what? Seconds?

2. Books have a greater permanence to them. A tweet can be deleted easily.

3. Books provide in-depth information. Twitter is filled with one-liners.

4. Books have a lot of thought, exploration, and development behind them. Some tweets might too but not the ones about your cousin Joe having yet another toothache.

5. Books don't have ads. Twitter has plenty.

6. Books are written by professional communicators (including ghostwriters). Your cousin Joe can write a tweet without thinking about it.

So why is this important with respect to mass communication? Well, because a lot of labor goes into producing a book, they provide more valuable information and information that can't be deleted. Furthermore, the revenue from the book is a major incentive to publish, not ads. Ads may skew the content of the books towards an advertiser's favor.

Now, we are generalizing of course. Some tweets can be very informative and powerful, and some books are quasi-ads for services. Nevertheless, the general rules of thumb we discussed above are true.

The one major parallel to Twitter is that books (especially electronic books) can be transmitted to a wide and diverse audience in order to spread a potentially impactful message.

Not convinced that books can do so even in the 21st century? Here are just a couple of examples of how books have played a role in mass communication in one form or another:

  • The DaVinci Code caused a debate about some elements of religion as well as twisting of history across the world.
  • Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, likely not coincidentally, led to the questioning of at least one operative involved in President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign.

Types & Categories of Books

These and other books can be categorized in many ways. Of course, the possibilities and how we categorize them are endless, so here are just some examples.

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