This innovative study chronicles how the print book has fared as both novelists and the burgeoning profession of information science have grappled with unprecedented quantities of data across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As the novel's archival project took a critical turn from realism to an investigation of the structures, possibilities, and ideologies of information media, novelists have considered ideas about how data can best be collected and stored. Julia Panko pairs case studies from information history with close readings of modernist works such as James Joyce's Ulysses and Virginia Woolf's Orlando and contemporary novels from Jonathan Safran Foer, Stephen King, and Mark Z. Danielewski that emphasize their own informational qualities and experiment with the aesthetic potential of the print book.
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This is a complex and fascinating book that has illuminating things to say about the novel as a genre; about the future of the book, the future of the novel, and the future of literary reading; about the form of information and the category of form itself; and about the information ecology of the digital world. It is lucidly and elegantly written, and its scholarship is impressively detailed and rigorous.
Out of Print explores the continued importance and power of the book in a digital age of increased big data. It draws from many important works of scholarship across the interdisciplinary fields of new media, book history, and literary studies. This weaving together of scholarship and literary texts, from modernism and contemporary literature, is a valuable contribution.