The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Art and New Media

Mary Leontsini / Jean-Marc Leveratto
The online world of fiction reading: non-expert reading practices and reading pleasure. The case of Philip Roth's The Human Stain

Literary activity on the web follows the rules imposed by promotion strategies of literary products via the e-commerce. Despite their dependence on market-driven purposes, books and reading promotion websites shape the terms of contact with fiction and at the same time they designate the features of reading practices, to the point that one could argue for the reshaping of the ordinary book culture, mainly based on criteria related to reading practices.

Books become consuming goods, but their consumption depends upon a knowledge of the product and on practices which condition choices and preferences. Promotion strategy implies book reviewing both by readers and professional critics. Consumers choose their books based not only on the editorials and on official newspaper critics, but they are also given the possibility to write their own review and read the review of readers with whom they share the pleasure of reading. Non-professional readers are given thus the opportunity to take part in the digital activity of a reading community, contribute to the orientation of choices of others and value their own reading criteria. In this way, readers develop a critical discourse on fiction, which introduces and legitimizes new non-expert criteria. The acquaintance with this discourse on fiction becomes the common ground for participation in the digital reading communication. The web provides the means for the creation of a space in which readers can establish criteria regarding both fiction and the reading pleasure itself. This space is the market to which they can place their discourse on fiction and hence expect it to come into fruition in a digital communication.

Based on the digital critical discourse on Philip Roth's The Human Stain, we are planning to a) describe the characteristics of non-expert discourse on fiction b) analyze the terms of creation and function of the digital reading space c) discuss the criteria which determine the pleasure of reading.