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Scrutinizing blurbs: How book cover endorsements highlight the centrality of marketing in publishing

Thesis type
(Project) M.Pub.
Date created
Marketing is a key way publishers ascribe value to books in the literary marketplace. Book blurbs – quoted endorsements printed on book covers – act as promotional copy, influencing pre-publication decision-makers, such as booksellers and publicists. This report argues that blurbs attract scrutiny because they are a visible reminder of the dominance of marketing in contemporary publishing. Firstly, blurb histories illustrate that skepticism around promotion in publishing is not new. Secondly, marketing history looks at the consolidation of power in publishing and longstanding discomfort with the commodification of the book. Thirdly, case studies of blurbs of The Joy Luck Club (1989) and Little Fires Everywhere (2017) offer insight into the publishing histories and promotional strategies of each book. Lastly, the final section explores opportunities to form community through blurbs, but points to structural limitations that inhibit the sustainability of blurb practices, such as investment in narratives of exceptionalism with marginalized authors.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Lastoria, Amanda
Thesis advisor: McGregor, Hannah
Member of collection
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