As a reader of this volume, you are certainly familiar with the term “book.” You are gazing upon one at this very moment—whether in the form of a paperback, its hyperlinked web companion, or an e-book accessed through your phone, tablet, or e-reader. You likely have a dedicated piece of furniture where you store other such volumes, one given the name “bookshelf” to describe its specialized function (though it likely provides space for more than its namesake). The same cannot be said of the other places you put them, which have decidedly unbookish names: coffee table, desktop, pocket, and backpack, for instance. Yet you and I keep our books there as well, in this case placing each where its material form is most at home: the coffee table for oversized volumes of visual heft and aesthetic interest, the metaphorical digital desktop for interactive works of electronic literature and portable document files (or PDFs) to be cross-referenced and searched, the pocket and bag for smaller works we wish to enjoy on-the-go—those designed for commuting or leisure. Our books adopt varied physical forms that influence our interactions with them, yet we have come to take this materiality for granted.

This essay may be found on page 31 of the printed volume.

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