Lab 7

Deciphering Physical Books

The internet is home to many texts. Ebooks are often read on e-readers (e.g., kindles). These ebooks are usually also available offline and can be bought at a bookstore or ordered online. These texts are treated as and considered books even when read on a device. Fanfiction, on the other hand, is very rarely meant to be published in physical copies. Unlike ebooks, fanfiction is not known for being read on e-readers. Authors post to certain websites and apps accessed using a phone or computer. These platforms allow authors to tag their work, contribute to online communities, and interact with their readers.

An e-reader is expected to be used for “serious” or mainstream literature. The sites on which fanfiction is read don’t hold these connotations. Reading on a phone seems more distant to holding a book than reading on a tablet with a matte screen meant to imitate a printed page. E-readers are used (almost) exclusively for reading while phones have many uses. Perhaps there is less commitment perceived in reading on a phone, despite the convenience and widespread availability. Even as texts move to the digital, there is still a distinction made between “real” books and other texts.

Fanfictions are often formatted like serial works that would be published in newspapers or magazines before the internet. Authors update stories and frequently use literary techniques developed by serial works. Texts that are released in parts are often given less physical importance than texts published whole. Just as serial works were read in magazines instead of books, fanfiction is read on phones and computers instead of e-readers or in physical form. While it makes sense to delay the production of a physical object until the entire story is written, the difference in material or platform used often impacts the value assigned to the text itself.