Long-form as Discourse?

By on

Two main ideas struck me about Wachtell's article:

1. The article raises some very legitimate questions about the perceived value of ebooks. Unfortunately, consumers seem unaware of the costs associated with creating a long-form text. One of the most popular complaints about ebooks seems to be their costs, especially since, people claim, the publishers are saving all that money on printing costs. In reality, the paper and ink used to print a paper text are relatively inexpensive. The majority of the time and resources is invested in developing, editing, reviewing, proofreading, and marketing.

2. I'm not completely clear on how Wachtell includes Web 2.0 (or similar collaborative texts) in his discussion of long-form text. The article seems to privilege the structured process that develops traditional book content which "provide[s] the intellectual scaffolding for our national discourse." However, the author apparently ignores the community-created texts made possible by changing technology and the potential of interactive ebooks for community-driven experiences. (E)Books are no longer simply providing a structure on which to build discourse; they are now perpetually being produced and re-imagined through discourse. How would a Twitter feed or a Tumblr blog fit into Wachtell's idea of content as a window, separate from the window dressing?



Abby's picture

I think you make a great

I think you make a great point about how Wachtell does not account for collaborative texts. However, as texts become collaborative, will there be a way to monitor the value of the ideas (how lofty they are) they present?

laura8's picture

You raise a good point. I'm

You raise a good point. I'm really curious if Wachtell would be on board with collaborative works that develop among multiple people without the standard editing/proofreading that Publishing houses provide. I wonder if she places a lot of value in the editor. The ones who look for works to meet a need. Who help to structure, proofread, and bring together long form texts. Would she like it if these were replaced with more common people?


I defiantly agree with your first point. When people buy e-books, I think they feel like they are getting less since they don't have an actual book to hold. I think it will take awhile to get people to understand they are paying for the actual thought, ideas, and creativity that goes into long-form text. Once that happens, I think that e-books will be accepted much better. My question is how will that happen?

Lofties Re-Imagined Through Discourse


You bring up a good point when you say that Wachtell didn't really delve into the possibilities of what an e-book can do in his (or her?) article. E-books, you're right, are "no longer providing a structure on which to build discourse", the discourse they incorporate is now building a structure. If this is the case, then Watchell's idea of long-form texts probably needs to be reevaluated. At some point in my reading response, I said that Wachtell side-stepped the discussion over whether we should pursue a future in e-publishing or leave things they way they are: primarily publishing texts in the traditional "book" form. According to what you said in your second bullet point, it sounds like you think Wachtell is side-stepping the concept of what an e-book is, also.