Books in the Digital Age (1&2)

I thought this reading assignment from John B Thompson’s Books in the Digital Age was a pretty good introduction to literary publishing. Honestly, a lot of the content covered in these opening chapters seemed to me to be pretty basic and self-explanatory, as it is in most textbooks. One of the things that I think differentiates this from most introductory textbooks, however, were the references in the second chapter to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, whose name I am only familiar with because I studied his theory on “taste” in ENG-L371, Critical Practices. While these decidedly tasteful references were obviously not crucial to a basic understanding of the chapter, I am kind of a nerd and personally thought they were a nice touch, seeing as the topic of scholarly or academic publishing is mentioned frequently here. In terms of academic publishing, one thing I had never thought of before was how professors actually affect book sales by including certain titles on the required reading lists for their courses each semester. While this is obviously true in terms of obscure literature, I guess I never thought of how textbook writers (and publishers especially) rely on the fact that their work will be used in an academic setting. This probably also accounts for the growing “homogeneity” that Thompson recognizes in the work of firms who publish in the same areas, and how most textbooks, even those published by different companies, have similar design schemes. Maybe Thompson added the Bourdieu references in Chapter 2 to make his “textbook” stand apart?

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