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Bespoke Bookselling for the 21st Century: John Smith’s and Current UK Higher Education.

Frost, S., 2015. Bespoke Bookselling for the 21st Century: John Smith’s and Current UK Higher Education. Book 2.0, 5 (1-2), 39-57.

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Bespoke Bookselling John Smith's FINAL.pdf - Accepted Version
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DOI: 10.1386/btwo.5.1-2.39_1


The JS Group is the business home to the prize-winning chain of booksellers for higher education institutions, John Smith’s. Under the deceptively simple term ‘bookseller’, however, lies a shift in thinking about books published by John Smith’s, which deserves articulation. This shift moves from regarding books as a source of knowledge conveyed through the book’s text to books as an agency capable of producing a range of notably different outcomes, of which knowledge is one, for each of the actors involved in its book-retail network. Through their aggregated engagement with what Darnton calls the communications circuit, John Smith’s manages to deliver different outcomes for students, lecturers, parents, student support services, for university executive management and for the state. These outcomes are only heightened when combined with Smith’s smart card system, sometimes called ASPIRE. In conjunction with a Samsung tablet, ASPIRE is then able to deliver ‘free’ digitized learning, funded through the UK fair access bursaries. The article examines John Smith’s model and questions the trade-off between effectiveness and freedom, finding the alternatives to be wanting. The research emerges from ongoing work into reading within the frame of commodity culture and, as such, the disciplinary fields supporting it are sociologies of literature, economics and book history studies, expressed in terms of cultural and critical discourse. The combination, it is hoped, will provide a fresh perspective.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:ASPIRE; John Smith’s; bookselling; bursary; fair access; higher education; retail; tablet
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:28358
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:28 Mar 2017 13:19
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:03


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