Literary culture has become a form of popular culture over the last fifteen years thanks to the success of televised book clubs, film adaptations, big-box book stores, online bookselling, and face-to-face and online book groups. This volume offers the first critical analysis of mass reading events and the contemporary meanings of reading in the UK, USA, and Canada based on original interviews and surveys with readers and event organizers.
The resurgence of book groups has inspired new cultural formations of what the authors call "shared reading." They interrogate the enduring attraction of an old technology for readers, community organizers, and government agencies, exploring the social practices inspired by the sharing of books in public spaces and revealing the complex ideological investments made by readers, cultural workers, institutions, and the mass media in the meanings of reading.
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About the Author
DeNel Rehberg Sedo is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada.
Table of ContentsIntroduction. 1.Reading 2. Television 3. Radio 4. Money 5. Worker 6. Reader 7. Book
What People are Saying About This
This is more than just an excellent study of books and reading in the twenty first century. It's a superb piece of cultural sociology.
David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds
In Beyond the Book, Fuller and Rehberg Sedo set out a carefully argued and highly readable account of "Mass Reading Events" (MREs) in Britain, Canada and the USA, supporting careful empirical research with sophisticated political and economic analysis of the reading industry. Their findings testify to the persistence of a book culture with long historical roots, despite radical upheavals in media structures and delivery platforms. Students and scholars of media and reading will especially appreciate the way the authors comprehensively pull together theoretical and empirical literature on current reading practices. This insightful and well-informed book is essential for anyone interested in the place of texts and reading in contemporary media-saturated life.
Christine Pawley, Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, and School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
This lively, methodologically adventurous book should be read by everyone interested in the fate of reading in our digital age. Why, the authors wonder, have community organizers, universities, and even both local and national governments turned to the promotion of mass reading events at the very moment when our media landscape seems to be changing so radically? Investigating how the community reading of books is financed, organized, promoted on radio and television, and then experienced and evaluated by the many who participate in this widespread activity, the authors [could insert names here] explore with great verve and insight the significance of the fact that a book reading industry has flourished even as digital media garner more and more of our collective attention.
Janice Radway, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University
Using an impressive range of empirical material gathered from organizers and participants, this book offers a compelling account of the significance of Mass Reading Events in today’s ‘reading industry’. In the tradition of Janice Radway and Elizabeth Long it reminds us that attention to actual readers and their practices is vital if we are to make sense of the changes and continuities evident in contemporary literary culture.
David Wright, University of Warwick, Centre for Cultural Policy Studies