Call for contributions: Presenting the book in the digital world (eds. P. Ajouri & U. Schneider)

Medium Buch. Wolfenbütteler interdisziplinäre Forschungen

Herausgegeben vom Wolfenbütteler Arbeitskreis für Bibliotheks-, Buch- und Mediengeschichte.

For the 2020 issue, researchers are invited to contribute to the topic “Presenting the book in the digital world”.

Books have been read and collected for centuries, but have also been used to present one’s own person, mainly their inner life and their social status. With the help of books, a person can express aspects of their identity, such as scholarship, education, sensitivity, wealth, taste.

The presentation of the book took place not only through texts and in books themselves, but often also through visual media such as woodcuts, engravings and prints, photography, film or television. Today, the Internet offers a completely new framework: the presentation of the book on the Internet differs from older practices of presentation through its multimedia-based interaction, the worldwide networking of private individuals, public institutions and commercial enterprises, through feedback loops and new possibilities of shared production and reception.

In addition to the major changes that digitalisation has brought to the book, online media enable new ways of displaying it. The book itself, its content and its material design can be presented on the Internet, as well as writing and reading practices, its purchase, its storage or its functions and presence in everyday life. Often values are attributed to the medium of book that can be easily decoded, especially in photographic arrangements. For heuristic purposes, we distinguish (1) presentations in which the reader plays a decisive role from (2) presentations originating from publishers and the book trade.

(1) Innovative formats of book presentation on the Internet by readers often draw on traditions that have developed around the book in recent centuries: by reading the individual gains self-cultivation, he or she gives insights into his or her feelings and thoughts. People come together through books, they reveal themselves through them. Book collections convey social prestige and reveal information about economic resources. As part of the furniture, books reveal something about the lifestyle of the owner. These and other traditions are not unaffected by the novel constitution of individuality on the Internet, and they combine with new formats: with the blog and video blog, customer reviews and social media, shopping hauls and the bookshelf tour (‘shelfie tour’).

(2) Publishers and retailers also have a genuine interest in presenting their books online. This happens on their websites, in book blogs, the VLB-TIX and many other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Publishers and retailers naturally also appreciate the advertising effect of the cover on the Internet, and use previews and reading samples as well as the information about authors; these formats are by no means new, but derive from the physical book and publishing world. They can be re-staged on websites, and if necessary be modified and enriched.

Contributions to this multifaceted topic might consider, for example, the following questions:

  • Can conventions of book presentation be formulated on platforms such as YouTube or Instagram, which can be analysed according to culture, milieu, and generation?
  • What value attributions to the medium book can be derived from photographic arrangements?
  • What iconographic traditions of book presentation are involved?
  • What role is given to the book in the presentation of individual lifestyles?
  • How are reading atmospheres and reading scenes designed and staged?
  • How do professional providers and publishers now present the medium of the book, how do they enrich the reading experience and which traditions are chosen for adaptation by modern media?

We welcome case studies and/or theory-based access from book history, library studies, scientific history, media history, communication studies, literary studies, cultural anthropology or art history.

The editors ask for a short abstract of approx. 500-800 words and a short vita of approx. 350 characters until 15 April 2020 to Univ.-Prof. Dr. Philip Ajouri ( and Prof. Dr. Ute Schneider ( A decision on proposed contributions will be taken before 15 May. The deadline for the contributions is 30 August 2020.


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