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Goldsmiths - University of London

Author, reader, text: collaboration and the networked book

Spencer, Amy. 2011. Author, reader, text: collaboration and the networked book. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Written, edited and published in a networked environment, the networked book makes the process of collaboration between its authors and readers visible. This collaboration is recorded in the peripheries of the text through a record of interactions, shared ideas, conversations and annotations and becomes part of the book. The presence of this documentation of the collaborative process challenges the traditionally held positions of author and reader and produces a new form of collaborative work. The divisions between the author, reader and the text become blurred as the book in the networked environment moves from being a physical product and the process of its creation becomes a collaborative experience. Authorship becomes an activity of exchange as the networked book champions the idea that multiple authors can take part in textual production.

This thesis uses Gerard Genette’s theory of paratextual analysis to examine in depth the peripheries of three networked books; A Million Penguins, The Golden Notebook Project and Paddlesworth Press. It argues that the paratexts of the networked book are where the dialogues between authors and readers are located and an in depth examination of these is crucial for an understanding of how the process of their collaboration is made visible. Using this approach, the thesis examines and identifies the thresholds between author, reader and text. The text of each of the three case studies is examined as a space where authors and readers communicate through an analysis of behaviour, an identification of roles and a consideration of hierarchies in the collaborative process. The thresholds, boundaries, freedoms and restrictions of both the author and reader positions are explored. The collaborative experience of textual production is one of multiplicity; there is no one author, reader or text and the thesis concludes that a networked book is a book about the dialogue between author and reader and that these dialogues become part of the book.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Networked book, digital literature, collaboration, authorship, paratext, Gerard Genette, A Million Penguins, The Golden Notebook Project, Paddlesworth Press.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


5 October 2011

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 May 2013 10:29

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2018 05:30


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