'Filosofía pirata, edición libre', discussion with Perro Tuerto y Pucho (El Rancho Electrónico) y Gabriela Méndez Cota (Universidad Iberoamericana) for the Mexico city radio station Ibero, September 12, 2019.

Open Humanities Press – The Inhumanist Manifesto

Pirate Philosophy, This Is Not A Pipe Podcast

HyperCritical Theory

Übercapitalism and What Can Be Done About It

Recent publications

Masked Media (limited edition paper-only publication for The House That Heals The Soul exhibition, Tetley, Leeds, 2018) 

 The Inhumanist Manifesto: Extended Play (Techne Lab, 2017)

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here in Media Gifts or in Coventry University's online repositories PURE here, and CURVE here 

Radical Open Access

« For a speculative research and publishing economy | Main | 'Gathered through dispersion': the book to come »

What do we have the right not to call a 'book'?

Having said that Media Gifts is a book ‘gathered through dispersion’, I should stress we don’t necessarily need to go quite this far in dispersing our books if we just want to establish a publishing strategy that others can follow. Prior to the publication of The Hacker Manifesto Wark had already disseminated versions of his text on the internet as work-in-progress, by means of the nettime mailing list especially. It is a practice that is of course increasingly common today, down to the level of blog posts, emails and tweets, with most presses being willing to republish material that has previously been published in these forms. Still, what if authors provide interested readers with something as simple as a set of guidelines and links showing how such distributed constellations of texts can be bound together in a coherent, sequential form (perhaps using a collection and organisation tool such as Anthologise which uses WordPress to turn distributed online content into an electronic book)? Just how dispersed, loosely gathered and structured does a free, open, online version of a book have to be for ‘brand name’ presses to be prepared to publish a bound version?


In an essay in Paper Machine called ‘The Book to Come’, Jacques Derrida asks: ‘What then do we have the right to call a “book” and in what way is the question of right, far from being preliminary or accessory, here lodged at the very heart of the question of the book? This question is governed by the question of right, not only in its particular juridical form, but also in its semantic, political, social, and economic form – in short, in its total form’.

My question is: What do we have the right not to call a ‘book’?


Dispersing our current work-in-progress will not only provide us with a way of loosening some of the legal ties that bind books, however; it may also help us to think differently about the idea of the book itself.

As Graham Harman writes on his Object-Orientated Philosophy blog:

In not too many years we will have reached the point where literally anyone can publish a philosophy book in electronic form in a matter of minutes, even without the least trace of official academic credentials. I don’t bemoan this at all – the great era of 17th century philosophy was dominated by non-professors, and the same thing could easily happen again. As far as publishing is concerned, what it means is that all publishing is destined to become vanity publishing. (Alberto Toscano recently pointed this out to me.) You’ll just post a homemade book on line, and maybe people will download it and read it, and maybe you’ll pick up some influence.

Yet what is so interesting about recent developments in electronic publishing is not that, what with open access, WordPress, Scribd, Smashwords, Booki and, producing and distributing (and even selling in the case of Smashwords and Kindle) a book is something nearly everyone can do today in a matter of minutes. It is not even that book publishing may, as a result, be steadily becoming more like blogging or vanity publication, with authority and certification provided as much by an author’s reputation or readership, or the number of times a text is visited, downloaded, cited, referenced, linked to, blogged about, tagged, bookmarked, ranked, rated or ‘liked’, as it is by conventional peer-review or the prestige of the press. All of those criteria still rest upon and retain fairly conventional notions of the book, the author, publication and so on. What seems much more interesting is the way certain developments in electronic publishing contain at least the potential for us to perceive the book as something that is not completely fixed, stable and unified, with definite limits and clear material edges, but as liquid and living, open to being continually and collaboratively written, edited, annotated, critiqued, updated, shared, supplemented, revised, re-ordered, reiterated and reimagined.  Here, what we think of as ‘publication’ -- whether it occurs in ‘real time’ or after a long period of reflection and editorial review, ‘all’ at once or in fits and starts, in print-on-paper or electronic form -- is no longer an end point. Publication is rather just a stage in an ongoing process of unfolding.


(This is one of a series of posts written as version 3.0 of a contribution to Mark Amerika's remixthebook project. For other posts in the series, see below and here)

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