Bookishness

Loving Books in a Digital Age

Jessica Pressman

Columbia University Press

Bookishness

Pub Date: September 2020

ISBN: 9780231195133

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: September 2020

ISBN: 9780231195126

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: September 2020

ISBN: 9780231551199

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

Bookishness

Loving Books in a Digital Age

Jessica Pressman

Columbia University Press

Twenty-first-century culture is obsessed with books. In a time when many voices have joined to predict the death of print, books continue to resurface in new and unexpected ways. From the proliferation of “shelfies” to Jane Austen–themed leggings and from decorative pillows printed with beloved book covers to bookwork sculptures exhibited in prestigious collections, books are everywhere and are not just for reading. Writers have caught up with this trend: many contemporary novels depict books as central characters or fetishize paper and print thematically and formally.

In Bookishness, Jessica Pressman examines the new status of the book as object and symbol. She explores the rise of “bookishness” as an identity and an aesthetic strategy that proliferates from store-window décor to experimental writing. Ranging from literature to kitsch objects, stop-motion animation films to book design, Pressman considers the multivalent meanings of books in contemporary culture. Books can represent shelter from—or a weapon against—the dangers of the digital; they can act as memorials and express a sense of loss. Examining the works of writers such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Jennifer Egan, Mark Z. Danielewski, and Leanne Shapton, Pressman illuminates the status of the book as a fetish object and its significance for understanding contemporary fakery. Bringing together media studies, book history, and literary criticism, Bookishness explains how books still give meaning to our lives in a digital age.
Jessica Pressman’s great strength lies in her wonderful touch for the material. Her expansive command of exemplars runs the gamut from the high literary to cultural kitsch. Bookishness offers that rare and enviable combination of fascinating source material and an easily transportable take-away—the title term itself, which is sure to become widely adopted and relied upon. Matthew Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland

About the Author

Jessica Pressman is associate professor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University, where she cofounded the Digital Humanities Initiative. She is the author of Digital Modernism: Making It New in New Media (2014); coauthor of Reading Project: A Collaborative Analysis of William Poundstone’s Project for Tachistoscope {Bottomless Pit} (2015); and coeditor of Comparative Textual Media: Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era (2013) and Book Presence in a Digital Age (2018).