Bookishness describes a common literary or aesthetic response to the fears surrounding the death of print. The term is closely associated with literary scholar Jessica Pressman, who describes bookishness as both "a twenty-first-century phenomenon" and "omnipresent" (Pressman 2020, 1). The adjective 'bookish' is itself applied by the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary to those who are "interested in reading and studying, rather than in more active or practical things". While the second part of the definition indicates a negative connotation, this is confirmed through the addition of "often disapproving" in the definition. In an article from 2009 Pressman describes “the aesthetic of bookishness”, focusing on how "the threat posed by digital technologies becomes a source of artistic inspiration and formal experimentation in the pages of twenty-first-century literature" (Pressman 2009). In 2019 she expands the definition to include the cultural phenomenon surrounding the celebration of books within this context (Pressman 2019, 156). Her 2020 book defines bookishness as "creative acts that engage the physicality of the book within digital culture, in modes that may be sentimental, fetishistic, radical" (1). In his review of Pressman’s book, Rafael Chaiken (2021) describes the "mutual tension and interaction" between print and digital that it brings forward. This highlights how the fears have generated input for a new culture emerging around books that is both reflected in the literary but also in the objectification of books. Roy (2022) describes how "Pressman directly connects the Marxist notion of Commodity Fetishism to the idea of the Book and shows how the object has been commodified in itself", showcasing another aspect of bookishness.


Chaiken, Rafael. "Jessica Pressman: Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age". Publishing Research Quarterly 37, 513–515.
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Oxford Learner's Dictionaries. N.d. "bookish." Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, accessed on February 7, 2022.
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Pressman, Jessica. 2020. Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age. Columbia University Press.

Pressman, Jessica. 2019. "'There's Nothing Quite Like a Real Book': Stop-Motion Bookishness." In The Printed Book in Contemporary American Culture, edited by Heike Schaefer and Alexander Starre, 155-76. Palgrave Macmillan.


Roy, Samya Brata. 2022. “Indian Solo Electronic Writing and its Modernist Print Anxiety”, electronic book review, January 9, 2022.

(Authored by Kira Guehring)