CFP: What Is the History of (Electronic) Books?

Four decades after the launch of Michael Hart’s Project Gutenberg and three decades after the publication of Robert Darnton’s seminal essay, “What Is the History of Books?,” are we able to start telling the history of electronic books? If so, what are the ways by which authorship, publishing, reading, and scholarship have been influenced, shaped, or changed by electronic books? Do electronic books transmit texts in new ways? What relationships do electronic books create or threaten amongst authors, publishers, and readers? What does it mean to collect and curate electronic books?

The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada (PBSC) is seeking essays for a special spring 2013 issue on the history and future of the electronic book. Papers are invited from scholars of any nationality on aspects of the production, dissemination, and uses of electronic books, as well as the relationship between printed books and their digital counterparts. Although several initiatives like Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE), as well as scholars like Raymond Siemens, David Gants, Julia Bonaccorsi, and Ian Lancashire, are working in this area, our investigations are still in their infancy. Primary research on new subject matter in this emerging field is welcome, as are syntheses of or critical engagements with existing studies. Topics may include electronic books in relation to the future of scholarly communication or the economics of publishing, the history of popular or academic electronic book collections like Early English Books Online (EEBO), ACLS Humanities E-Book (HEB), or Google Books, the relationship between readers and devices like the Kindle, Nook, or Sony Reader, the materiality and form of electronic books, the digital transmission of texts, and the act of reading electronic books.

Submissions in either English or French of no more than 9000 words should be sent as .doc or docx attachments to the issue’s guest editor, Geoffrey Little(geoffrey.little@concordia.ca), by 1 September 2012. The submission should include an abstract of no more than 200 words and a short biographical statement. Articles receiving a favourable peer review must be resubmitted by 15 January 2013 for publication in the spring. In matters of spelling and style, PBSC follows the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition (2010) (footnotes). The guest editor welcomes queries at any time.

The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada is peer-reviewed. Articles are indexed in America: History and Life, the Canadian Periodical Index, and the MLA International Bibliography. Contents are also listed in the Recent Periodicals section of The Library.

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