The ambition of this article is to wrest attention away from the fraction of any book's life cycle spent in the hands of readers and toward, instead, the whole spectrum of social practices for which printed matter provides a prompt. It asks, how accounts of print culture would look if narrated from the point of view not of human readers and users, but of the book. Turning to the nineteenth-century genre of "it-narrative"—which traces the travel of a book among a series of owners and handlers—it asks how such a narrative might compare to more familiar accounts of selves shaped by texts.

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