What We Talk about When We Talk About Books

Leah Price. Basic, $30 (224p) ISBN 978-0-465-04268-5
Price (How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain), a Rutgers English professor and the founding director of the Rutgers Book Initiative, combines a lighthearted romp through literary history with a serious intent: to argue that the rise of e-texts is not the radical change often claimed. In fact, Price argues, change is the norm in print history: the world moved from papyrus to parchment to paper, and from scrolls to codices to books, while books themselves have changed from giant medieval compilations of parchment chained in place, to early-20th-century pocketbooks printed on onionskin. Price notes that with the advent of e-texts, physical books have a newly elevated status based in nostalgia for a pre-electronic era—and are increasingly employed as therapy, their purpose displaced from the joy of reading to self-improvement. Price’s factual tidbits are entertaining: for example, the first vegetarian cookbook was, ironically, bound with and printed on animal skins. However, her penchant for labored analogies—“Print is to digital as Madonna is to whore”—will strain even the most forgiving reader’s patience. Nevertheless, Price provides welcome comfort that the beloved book is in good shape, regardless of the form it ultimately takes. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/30/2019
Release date: 08/20/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-1-5416-7390-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5491-5534-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-8242-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-8240-2
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