At what point does the material that goes to make up a book become bound tightly enough for it to be understood as actually making up a book? Where in practice is the line going to be drawn?
And what if some of this material is disseminated out of sequence, under different titles, in other versions, forms and places where it is not quite so easy to bind, legally, economically or conceptually, as a book? Let us take as an example the version of the chapter in Media Gifts that explores the idea of liquid books. This appears as part of an actual liquid book that is published using a wiki, and is free for users to read, comment upon, rewrite, remix and reinvent. Similarly, the chapter on pirate philosophy is currently only available on a ‘pirate’ peer-to-peer network. There is no ‘original’ or ‘master’ copy of this text in the conventional sense: this text exists only to the extent it is part of a ‘pirate network’ and is stolen or ‘pirated’ (and translated, in the case of the version that recently appeared in the Japanese magazine Gendai-Shiso).
Indeed, while each of the media projects the book is concerned with – at the moment there are ten in all - constitutes a distinct project in its own right, they can also be seen as forming a dynamic network of texts, websites, archives, wikis, IPTV programmes and other internet traces. Consequently, if it is to be thought of as a book at all, it should be understood as an open, distributed and multi-location book: parts of it are to be found on a blog, others on wikis, others again on p2p networks. To adapt a phrase of Maurice Blanchot’s from The Book to Come (for whom Stéphane Mallarmé’s ‘Un Coup de dés orients the future of the book both in the direction of the greatest dispersion and in the direction of a tension capable of gathering infinite diversity, by the discovery of more complex structures’), Media Gifts is a book ‘gathered through dispersion’.