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I’m looking for books and articles, like Birkerts’s The Gutenberg Elegies (it’s a bit dated now, I think), that explore the differences between reading from a book and reading on the computer and other electronic devices. Please feel free to recommend stuff here. Thanks.

  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

8 thoughts on “Recommendations?

  1. One book that gets at this in some ways (at least tangentially) is Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins. I’m using it in my New Media Writing course this fall.

  2. what a great question! i feel like i should have a snappy answer, given that i’m all, like, digital and stuff. hmmm. my favorite digital media + text handbook has been Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” which does not specifically address tv/computer/devices but does examine what happens to text when it’s in a time-based medium (comics). i believe it would get you thinking.

    Marie Laure-Ryan, look her up, independent scholar who writes cogently about new media and writing. try “Narrative As Virtual Reality” p214.

    good discussion of how “web design is 95% typography” which certainly concerns us writerly readerly people! http://informationarchitects.jp/the-web-is-all-about-typography-period/

    paper describing how breaking up texts makes it easier to read (on digital screens) http://www.readingonline.org/articles/art_index.asp?HREF=/articles/r_walker/

    and then this is just a cool print piece that plays with legibility http://www.bantjes.com/index.php?id=297

    let me know if any of these help! it’s something i care about deeply.

    1. Oh, I really enjoyed McCloud’s book. It’s sitting on my shelf and I’ll flip through it when I get back in town.

      And, thanks for the other leads.

  3. Man, it’s been a while since I immersed myself in New Media Studies. I can’t recommend a single book off the top of my head but here are some folks that I’ve found smart and interesting on related topics: Katherine Hayles, Alan Liu, Lisa Gitelman, Matthew Kirschenbaum… Well, I’ll stop. I’m just listing the major players in the field. But they should offer a nice antidote to Birkerts’ nostalgia.

  4. Nicholas Carr’s ‘The Shallows’ is an absolute must-read if you’re interested in book vs. electronic reading.

    1. Thanks, Mike. I haven’t read the book. But I’ve read various articles from Carr including “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, which, come to think of it, mentions another book I haven’t read that I’ve wondered about: Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.

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