Sunday Book-Thought 144

Different eras, these changes suggest, don’t just produce different kinds of books. Each also generates new ways of treating books – more specifically, new assumptions about what aspects of these physical objects deserve readers’ attention. When my students notice how different an eighteenth-century sermon collection looks from a twentieth-century airport paperback, the difference between a laminated chemistry textbook and the electronic version on their laptop begins to look less unprecedented. In the other direction, though, they begin to see that electronic technologies are in fact creating something radically new. Digital tools may not be upending our reading practices any more drastically than changing forms of print did. What they are revolutionizing is our ideasĀ about reading. In the process, they’re remaking the printed past.
Leah Price, What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading (New York: Basic Books, 2019), p. 33.


Sunday Book-Thought 139

Unlike royalty-published, indie-published, or hybrid authors, fanfic authors are ushering in a new era of prose fiction: one that is open-ended, palimpsestual, intra- and intertextual, inviting to new contributions, shaped around community and discourse, with room for multiplicative forms of creativity, play, and experimentation. Despite the arguments in this section, fanfic writers may not need external validation for the legitimacy of their work: given their numbers, their passion, and their youth, they may simply shift cultural reading habits to their new realm, rather than attempting to fit into the old one.
R. Lyle Skains, Digital Authorship: Publishing in the Attention Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), p. 82.