In Praise of Copying… Go Ahead, Take a Copy

A Message from the Author – Marcus Boon


Cover: In Praise of Copying by Marcus Boon


“Given the topic and stance of In Praise of Copying, I wanted the text to participate openly in the circulation of copies that we see flourishing all around us. I approached Harvard to discuss options and they agreed to make the book available as a PDF online. The PDF is freely available to anyone who wants to download it, but it does come with a Creative Commons License that sets some intelligent restrictions on what you can do with it. Although generosity is a wonderful thing, this isn’t especially intended as a utopian gesture towards a world in which everything is free. It’s recognition of the way in which copies of texts circulate today, a circulation in which the physical object known as the book that is for sale in the marketplace has an important but hardly exclusive role. A PDF of a book is not an illegitimate copy of a legitimate original but participates in other kinds of circulation that have long flourished around the book-commodity: the library book; the photocopy or hand-written copy; the book browsed, borrowed or shared. We all know these modes of circulation exist, as they continue to do today with online text archives.

Perhaps these online archives just make visible and more ‘at hand’ something that was happening invisibly, more distantly, but continuously before. At the same time, something new is going on. The physical book today is one copy, one iteration of a text among others. What that means for publishers, writers, readers and other interested parties is something that we are working out—on this webpage and elsewhere.”—Marcus Boon


Full text PDFIn-Praise-of-Copying-by-Marcus-Boon-HUP-free-full-text

And at:


Further Reading:

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Kenneth Goldsmith

More information at:

“The recipe for my appropriation seems direct and simple enough: “On Friday, September 1, 2000, I began retyping the day’s New York Times, word for word, letter for letter, from the upper left hand corner to the lower right hand corner, page by page.” My goal was to be as uncreative as possible, one of the hardest constraints an artist can muster, particularly on a project of this scale; with every keystroke comes the temptation to fudge, cut and paste, and skew the mundane language. But to do so would be to foil the exercise. Instead, I simply made my way through the entire newspaper, typing exactly what I saw. Every place where there was an alphanumeric word or letter, I retyped it: advertising, movie timetables, the numbers of a license plate on a car ad, the classifieds, and so forth. The stock quotes alone ran for more than two hundred pages.” (From: Uncreative Writing by Kenneth Goldsmith 2011)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: