Defining the Book Today: A Perplexing Endeavor

Catherine Zekri
To add a paper, Login.

What is a book today? This question calls for a more complex answer than appears at first sight. Books have changed and continue to do so quickly and in many ways under the technological, social, cultural, and economical forces that are characteristic of our times and the book industry. They are the site of new social, cultural, and cognitive practices of which we in fact know very little yet. Our research aims to understand these changes and bring out definitions to these new social, cultural, and cognitive practices, which are themselves related to the new and emerging forms of book technologies.

The field of this research is the Canadian Grande Bibliothèque du Québec in Montreal. Seeking to understand how this newly built institution has coped with the new book formats and technologies, this paper offers the perspective of several executive actors within the institution and shows how their definitions vary according to their roles and positions. Very few empirical and analytical works show us how the actors central to the book domain, such as public libraries, book selection library committees, technology providers, publishers, book distributors and the like, cope with the current changes all the while contributing to these changes by their strategic choices and day-to-day practices.

One goal of this work is to grasp the ‘happening process’ of the emerging conceptions and practices of the book, and their impacts on public policy of knowledge dissemination, as research tends to justify retrospectively those newly circulating conceptions, practices, and policies. It will therefore attempt to define the ways in which the book has changed materially and technologically, and how it continues to change under the influence of the same actors who cope with these specific changes in the book industry.

Keywords: New Conceptions and Practices of the Book, The Book as a Time Enduring and Transforming Technology, Book-related Institutions, Cognition, Public Policies of Knowledge Dissemination
Stream: Books, Writing and Reading
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Catherine Zekri

PhD Candidate & Lecturer, Communications Division
Arts and Science Faculty, University of Montreal


Catherine Zekri's field of research is book history and emerging conceptions and practices of the book. Her research and work has previously focused on translation and the changing nature of our relation to books. Today, she is concerned with the transformations that currently affect the individual’s relationship with the various cognition instruments which integrate writing, namely books and other printed matter. She is interested in how individuals and these instruments interact and mutually redefine each other, and consequently, what are the most significant approaches to track and foresee these changes in order to develop or adjust our future cultural and technology policies in a timely manner.
As a professional translator, she is fascinated by the semiotic relationship humans have with books, book design and typography. Her present enquiry in emerging book technologies and practices is a logic continuation of her previous work and research.

Ref: B06P0007