1st Edition

Introduction to Contemporary Print Culture Books as Media

By Simone Murray Copyright 2021
    256 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Introduction to Contemporary Print Culture examines the role of the book in the modern world. It considers the book’s deeply intertwined relationships with other media through ownership structures, copyright and adaptation, the constantly shifting roles of authors, publishers and readers in the digital ecosystem and the merging of print and digital technologies in contemporary understandings of the book object.

    Divided into three parts, the book first introduces students to various theories and methods for understanding print culture, demonstrating how the study of the book has grown out of longstanding academic disciplines. The second part surveys key sectors of the contemporary book world – from independent and alternative publishers to editors, booksellers, readers and libraries – focusing on topical debates. In the final part, digital technologies take centre stage as eBook regimes and mass-digitisation projects are examined for what they reveal about information power and access in the twenty-first century.

    This book provides a fascinating and informative introduction for students of all levels in publishing studies, book history, literature and English, media, communication and cultural studies, cultural sociology, librarianship and archival studies and digital humanities.

    Introduction: What is ‘Print Culture’?  Part 1: Theories and Methodologies for Understanding Print  1. Medium Theory  2. Book History  3. Political Economy  4. Cultural Policy  Part 2: Socio-cultural Dimensions of Books  5.  Independent and Alternative Publishing  6. Editing  7. Adaptation: Books Beyond their Covers  8. Book Retailing  9.  Cultures of Reading  10. Libraries and Archives  Part 3: Book Futures  11. Digital Books  12. The Dream of a Universal Library: Digitising Knowledge


    Simone Murray is Associate Professor in Literary Studies at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She is the author of three previous books, including The Adaptation Industry: The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Literary Adaptation (2012).

    "Murray’s textbook tackles a complex topic with precision and clarity. An essential introduction for undergraduate students of print culture in any literary field, Murray carefully maps out the ways in which print culture permeates the sociocultural landscape. The author leaves room for readers to think critically about each topic she delineates, and includes learning exercises for students to practice identifying and articulating elements of print culture encountered in everyday life. Murray’s invocation to readers is to situate themselves within print culture not as mere observers or passive consumers but as direct participants who are aware of the many converging factors that influence it."

    Sophia E. Du Val, International Journal of Communication

    "At this crucial digital juncture in the history of the book, Simone Murray offers us a timely and reflective study of print culture. Interweaving theory with case studies that range from Edith Wharton to Harry Potter, this detailed yet lively and accessible volume is an important intervention for the field."

    Professor Martin Paul Eve, Birkbeck, University of London


    "This is the book we have long needed in the fields of book history, publishing studies, and digital media studies. In lively and accessible chapters, organized by theoretical and thematic focus, Simone Murray gives readers a chart for their explorations of changing disciplinary landscapes. The well-chosen learning exercises and resources which accompany each chapter will be appreciated by teachers and students alike."

    Professor Alan Galey, University of Toronto


    "Introduction to Contemporary Print Culture is the textbook many of us in book and publishing studies have been waiting for. While it is a commonplace that books are material objects, Murray illustrates how they are also, and more specifically, types of media at work in today’s networks and media systems."

    Matthew Kirschenbaum, author of Bitstreams: The Future of Digital Literary Heritage and Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing


    "Simone Murray brings her well-honed perspective, drawing on print culture, publishing studies, and book history, to create this ambitious and cohesive guide to the modern culture of the book: a tour through the overlapping worlds of authors, publishers, retailers, and the complex landscapes of reading and media culture."

    John W Maxwell, Associate Professor of Publishing, Simon Fraser University


    "From 'RobotDarnton' (a playful Twitter account) to #bookstagram, this book offers a succinct introduction to contemporary print and book culture that is simultaneously grounded in medium theory and book history. Simone Murray's new textbook is a very welcome addition to the field that we sometimes call 21st-century book studies, and students will appreciate the hands-on approach to theory and the reliable background information combined with thought-provoking exercises and illustrations."

    Corinna Norrick-Rühl, Professor of Book Studies, University of Muenster, Germany


    "From zine-making to Instapoetry, Simone Murray gives us a fascinating tour of contemporary print culture. Lively and readable, the book is an invaluable resource for classroom teaching or private study."

    Angus Phillips, Director of the Oxford International Centre for Publishing and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Publishing


     "Murray masterfully contextualizes twenty-first century print culture in theoretical frameworks from book history, medium theory, political economy, and cultural policy. This theoretical underpinning is grounded in innovative learning exercises and relevant and current publishing industry examples. An excellent textbook that expertly balances theory and practice."

    Rachel Noorda, Director of the Book Publishing Graduate Program and Assistant Professor in English at Portland State University