Four Shades of Gray: The Rise and Plateau of the Kindle [MIT Press Platform Studies series]

My first book (due Spring 2022) maps out the success of the Kindle during its first decade (2007-2017) and how the platform allowed Amazon to shape contemporary publishing. The book explores the technological, bibliographical, and social innovations of the Kindle with case studies of Kindle Popular Highlights, digitization of books from 1989, and how Amazon’s patents shaped its development from retailer to vital infrastructure for the Internet.

Digital Publishing Before the Web

Following my work on the Kindle, I have started research on lost histories of digital publishing prior to the ebook boom of the early 2000s and consolidation by the Kindle in 2007 through corporate archives, patent filings, and contemporaneous journalism. I start with the development of technologies for microfilm publishing through to the corporate experimentation of the 1990s, where major technology companies including Motorola, Apple, IBM, and Microsoft invested heavily on the future of reading on-screen.

I received the McCorrison Fellowship for the History and Bibliography of Printing in Canada and the United States in 2018 to visit archives at Stanford University Library and the Computer History Museum in Palo Alto to begin the primary research for the project.

The Early Development of Project Gutenberg [Cambridge Elements in Publishing and Book Cultures]

I am currently working on a short book focusing on the development of Project Gutenberg before 2000 working with archival evidence from both the Michael Hart papers at the University of Illinois (including his born digital files), the bibliographical records of the Project Gutenberg website, and various mailing lists Hart frequented in the 1990s. Through this evidence, I present a revisionist history that emphasises the importance of a number of volunteers to the early success of the Project and recontextualises the importance of hagiography and mythmaking in Hart’s construction of its early development.

Digitizing the Patent backfile

The Carnegie Trust provided funding for me to conduct a pilot study about the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) protracted history of digitizing its patent backfile and the impact this has had on accessibility for the public. I am expanding this research to include the European/UK context.

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