The Books That Count: Big Data Versus Narrative in Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Joshua Cohen’s Book of Numbers

  • Regina Schober
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)


Regina Schober examines the changing cultural status of the codex in the context of the emergence of Big Data and the concurrent emphasis on quantified knowledge. She analyzes two recent “novels of the information age” by Robin Sloan and Joshua Cohen that cast the printed book ambivalently both as an alternative to and as part of a new media culture that prioritizes numerical and statistical knowledge. Schober’s analysis reveals how the novels’ fictional portraits of writers and readers self-reflexively affirm the cultural significance of material book culture while they also rework data aesthetics. By highlighting specifically literary strategies for negotiating scale and complexity while appropriating structuring principles gleaned from data mapping, the novels offer new modes of response to the knowledge culture of Big Data.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Regina Schober
    • 1
  1. 1.American Studies, Mannheim UniversityMannheimGermany

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