The Digital Pamphlet

The American Revolution was fueled in part by pamphlets: cheap, short booklets that bypassed conventional publishing routs and brought new ideas straight to the masses. It’s hard to imagine the revolution without Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and the ability of colonists to express and share ideas inexpensively and rapidly thanks to the printing press and a literate populace. Indeed, my friend pictured at the right, Johannes Gutenberg, remains the most revolutionary figure in technological history.

The internet has made that similar revolutionary spirit possible in myriad ways, but blogs and websites tend to feed short attention spans. There’s still a place in the world for the long-form essay, and now that we have the ability to create and publish ebooks almost instantly, the pamphlet (more than 5 pages but fewer than 50) is making something of a comeback. Amazon has their Kindle Singles program, which are short books for under $2, and it’s doing quite well. Archbishop Chaput’s Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America is one good example, and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan adds another.

Cardinal Dolan’s book is called True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty, and you can buy it in the Amazon Kindle store for 99 cents. You don’t need to own a Kindle: it can be read on a computer or mobile device as well.

So, go. Shoo. Go buy it. I’ll wait until you come back. I’m about to read it myself, then I’ll return with some thoughts on it.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.


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