Paper into Book

The phenomenon whereby articles in popular magazines become full-length books is a familiar one, as is that in which a scholarly research agenda, or a series of academic papers, is distilled into book form for the general reader. Examples of the former include Tom Mueller’s Extra Virginity (first published as a New Yorker piece), Professor X’s In the Basement of the Ivory Tower (first published in the Atlantic Monthly) and enough other instances to inspire Amazon to start its Kindle Singles program (presumably to cut down on the number of books that have only enough content to fill an article). Examples of the latter include Banerjee and Duflo’s Poor Economics, Reinhart and Rogoff’s This Time is Different and countless other works by academics in the active research phase of their careers.

But there are new things under the sun! The new thing (or at least newly perceived to me) is an instance of a single scholarly article becoming a 289-page book. The genesis of this paper-into-book transformation is Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Law/Norm Gap, a slim 14-page paper published in the Utah Law Review in 2007. Since then, the eponymous Infringement Nation has gone forth and multiplied: the paper has spawned both a blog and impressively, a book more than 20 times the size of the original paper on which it’s based.

I now have the book on hand and the paper on my desktop. I look forward to seeing how the transformation from paper into book was made. One should hope it is by the grace of its creative author and not the repetition born of the public-publishing-publicity impulse.

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