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The Digital Literary Sphere

, 256 pages

15 b&w illus.

September 2018



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Usually ships 2-3 business days after receipt of order.

The Digital Literary Sphere

Reading, Writing, and Selling Books in the Internet Era


Reports of the book’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Books are flourishing in the Internet era—widely discussed and reviewed in online readers’ forums and publicized through book trailers and author blog tours. But over the past twenty-five years, digital media platforms have undeniably transformed book culture. Since Amazon’s founding in 1994, the whole way in which books are created, marketed, publicized, sold, reviewed, showcased, consumed, and commented upon has changed dramatically. The digital literary sphere is no mere appendage to the world of print—it is where literary reputations are made, movements are born, and readers passionately engage with their favorite works and authors.

In The Digital Literary Sphere, Simone Murray considers the contemporary book world from multiple viewpoints. By examining reader engagement with the online personas of Margaret Atwood, John Green, Gary Shteyngart, David Foster Wallace, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and even Jonathan Franzen, among others, Murray reveals the dynamic interrelationship of print and digital technologies.

Drawing on approaches from literary studies, media and cultural studies, book history, cultural policy, and the digital humanities, this book asks: What is the significance of authors communicating directly to readers via social media? How does digital media reframe the "live" author-reader encounter? And does the growing army of reader-reviewers signal an overdue democratizing of literary culture or the atomizing of cultural authority? In exploring these questions, The Digital Literary Sphere takes stock of epochal changes in the book industry while probing books’ and digital media’s complex contemporary coexistence.

Simone Murray is an associate professor (reader) in literary studies and the director of the Centre for the Book at Monash University. She is the author of Mixed Media: Feminist Presses and Publishing Politics and The Adaptation Industry: The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Literary Adaptation.

"A watershed book by Simone Murray, one of the shrewdest and most penetrating scholars of today’s rapidly changing cultural landscape. The Digital Literary Sphere brings analytical clarity and original insights to an important topic. Here is a brilliantly flexible paradigm that future historians of literary culture will apply to the new technologies and altered circumstances that lie ahead."

"An excellent and insightful study that provides a fascinating introduction to the world of digital books, publishing, and literature in the twenty-first century. Murray draws on a wealth of methodologies, combining a deep and broad familiarity with contemporary book culture with the most advanced critical thinking on authorship, reading, and mediation."

"The Digital Literary Sphere will quickly become the official guide to the way that digital media and contemporary literary culture intersect and inform one another. Murray demonstrates that digital media are less a threat to the literary realm than a means of extending its reach, propping up its resilient cultural value by enabling new forms of literary curation, connoisseurship, and self-improvement."

"From book trailers to virtual festivals, this study provides a useful ‘matrix model’ for charting the shifting landscape of the literary in the digital age. Simone Murray issues a stirring challenge to scholars from book history, literary studies, and the digital humanities to engage with emergent practices and platforms and to work together to future proof their respective disciplines."

"The Digital Literary Sphere gives us a glimpse of the future of the history of the book through a matrix of websites and digital platforms encompassing all aspects of contemporary literary production and consumption. This is a rigorous work of cultural critique in the tradition of Habermas, Bourdieu, and Darnton."

"A capacious and elegant exposé of the digital literary sphere in all its energetic unruliness. Murray challenges scholars to reframe contemporary online media as a dynamic, socially-inflected convergence of creation, circulation, and consumption and compellingly argues for cross-disciplinary détente between book history, literary studies, new media studies, and digital humanities."

"Rooted in interdisciplinary but deeply humanistic research, Murray’s fascinating study addresses the relation between literature and the digital with a strong theoretical and analytical focus. It is a sharp approach to new material and a formidable feat to pinpoint so many of the ever-changing characteristics in the digital realm."

"Murray's book is a benchmark work in the field because she explores the interconnectedness of marketing, authorship, and critical evaluation in the realm of digital literary culture with a high degree of theoretical sophistication. The scope of her book is awe-inspiring, but she also drills down deep in each and every chapter, providing one revelatory case study after another. I look forward to teaching this book for many years to come."

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