Review: Booklist

Here’s an insightful and entertaining look at the culture of fandom, from its early days right up to the present. The authors focus on the way fandom has evolved from an essentially passive pastime—people liked something, so they tried to acquire it or produce their own versions of it—to a symbiotic relationship between consumer and producer. These days, acquisition is a lot easier than it used to be, thanks to online shopping, which means that fans have more time for peripheral activities, including—and this is the most fascinating element of the book—persuading the people who make things to make the things the fans want. The authors call it a “fandom singularity”: marketers exploit fans by producing things they know the fans will buy, while at the same time fans influence what the marketers produce (there’s a hugely popular, entirely computer-generated Japanese pop singer, Hatsune Miku, whose material is often suggested or even written by “her” fans). Well-reasoned and engagingly written, this book will make readers realize that a new product that seems to have been made just for them, so perfectly does it fit their taste, probably was—because marketers know what we want and because we’ve told the marketers to give it to us. Fascinating and more than a little frightening.— David Pitt

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