Auditioning for Permanence

Reputation and legitimacy of electronically distributed novels

in Logos
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This paper examines readership of the electronic novel, and how a novel’s reputation and legitimacy are constructed and communicated when readers encounter the text digitally. Focusing on the key thread of permanence, the paper lays out five key factors in the reception of a novel in ebook form. One, that the ability to keep a text, over and above other factors—privacy, value, support for traditional bookstores, etc.—is a primary motivator when choosing between electronic and print formats. Two, that types of longevity specific to digital formats—cloud storage, instant access, multiple downloads to generations of devices, etc.—have not made headway in establishing digital books as anything other than fleeting and insecure. Three, that readers have different expectations for permanence when it comes to novels. Four, that many readers welcome a digital ‘audition’ before a book is allowed into one’s personal library, and this audition is particularly welcome for novels. And, finally, that results suggest the beginnings of a shift from firm status categories—published and unpublished, ‘proper’ and not—to a continuum of credibility.

Auditioning for Permanence

Reputation and legitimacy of electronically distributed novels

in Logos

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