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From print to digital: textual technologies and reading as a sociotechnical practice

From print to digital: textual technologies and reading as a sociotechnical practice

Piterou, Athena ORCID: 0000-0003-4138-113X and Steward, Fred (2016) From print to digital: textual technologies and reading as a sociotechnical practice. In: Genus, Audley, (ed.) Sustainable Consumption : Design, Innovation and Practice. The Anthropocene: Politik—Economics—Society—Science (3). Springer International Publishing, pp. 51-64. ISBN 978-3-319-29665-4; 978-3-319-29663-0 (doi:

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It is assumed that digital technologies contribute to sustainable consumption and production through dematerialization. Hence, digital text is seen as a way to reduce the environmental implications of printing. This chapter focuses on printed text which is published (mainly in the form of books) rather than on home or office printing. It is argued that a transition of books towards digitization involves changes not only in the technologies of book production, but also in the practices of writing and reading, and will more generally affect the ways readers interact with texts in a variety of situations. The chapter analyses the sociotechnical system of the printed paper text (focusing on printed books) and the historical co-evolution of print technologies and reading practices. The implications of digitization for textual production and consumption are then considered. The societal function of the printed paper text can be broadly defined as the development, preservation and diffusion of (usually) textual information. Yet, the concept of function is too limited in describing the multiple ways readers engage with texts: the interaction between books and readers differs according to readers’ intentions and the context of the action.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: "The chapter is an invited contribution but it was peer reviewed. Hence, I cannot provide a specific date of acceptance. The date provided refers to the online publication of the item. I provided the ISBN for both print and online versions." - A. Piterou
Uncontrolled Keywords: book history, print technology, reading practices
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Institute of Political Economy, Governance, Finance and Accountability (IPEGFA) > Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre (GPERC)
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2021 16:33

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