DOI link for Book Value
Book Value book
The focus of this chapter is on the organisation of ‘book culture’ and the nature of readers’ engagement with books and reading in contemporary Australia. The chapter first describes the literary field in Australia through the framework of Bourdieu’s concept of the field of cultural production but taking into account distinctive features produced by the particular history of publishing and policy in Australia, its situation within an international Anglophone publishing sphere and developments over recent decades, especially through the impact of digital technologies and transformations in the value accorded to literary genres. Against this background, the chapter analyses responses to survey questions concerning the reading of and taste for different kinds of books and a selection of Australian and international authors, and participation in a range of book-related activities and book ownership. Interviews with readers indicate different profiles that are part of an Australian ‘reading class’, strongly associated with respondents in professional and intermediate occupations and with post-secondary education, engaged with a range of popular and canonical books, and demonstrating high levels of esteem for books and reading generally. The cultural capital associated with the field is attached to the social value of books and reading, rather than literary value in a restricted sense.