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Credible Texts: Legitimacy and Reputation of E-books and E-novels

Dietz, Laura Catharine; (2019) Credible Texts: Legitimacy and Reputation of E-books and E-novels. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines e-book cultural value in terms of legitimacy, particularly as framed by readers in terms of ‘realness’ and ‘bookness’. Legitimacy is only one aspect of cultural value, but for e-books it is a fundamental aspect, crystallising the central question of whether e-books can be classed with books and partake of the book’s cultural status and privileged cultural position, or belong in a separate, almost inevitably lesser, category. The research gathers data relevant to many types of digital texts but focusses on e-novels. The thesis uses a mixed methods study design to gather data from surveys, focus groups, interviews and three pilot experiments conducted with readers. The discussion investigates how e-book legitimacy is constituted by readers, and how these qualities relate to and interact with other e-book attributes (e.g. instant access, materiality, etc.). The dissertation concludes with discussion of the implications of these findings for readers, authors, and publishers. Findings indicate that legitimacy in the form of realness or bookness remains highly relevant for readers, but conceptions of realness and bookness are flexible and contextspecific. These data confirm that while realness and bookness are widely recognised as desirable qualities, many e-novels function as useful fakes, where realness is unnecessary or actually undesirable. Further, the moiety of unrealness is as important as the unrealness itself, with three main categories of unrealness emerging as most prominent: e-novel as ersatz book, as digital proxy, and as incomplete book. Individual readers move between conceptions, demonstrating willingness to adopt different ideas of realness (and by extension different stances regarding the nature, legitimacy and cultural value of e-novels) depending on their needs in the moment, and what they require from a given e-novel at a particular time.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Credible Texts: Legitimacy and Reputation of E-books and E-novels
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Information Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077744
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