ELPUB 2014 – Let’s put data to use: digital scholarship for the next generation – June 19-20, 2014 – Thessaloniki, Greece.

Posted by Tom Wilson for Birgitta Wahlin

On the first day key note speaker Herbert Van de Sompel presented Towards Robust Linking and Referencing for Web-Based Scholarly Communication – a much-needed feature, given the extent of Web-based publication of scholarly papers. Peter Linde librarian from Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden, presented a paper, written with colleagues working on the EU RECODE Project on how libraries and other academic institutions engage in making data open. He pointed to the key issue of financing such developments and noted that universities need to budget for the storage and curation of data, as well as for training, and that additional funding was unlikely without some national mandate, requiring universities to undertake the role.

The implementation of The European Commission recommendation on open access to scientific information. Comparison of national policies, opportunities and risks for academic publishing in non-English speaking countries was presented by Lisiane Lomazzi and Ghislaine Chartron. The authors point to the fact that the EU’s recommendations have not led to any consistency in how countries approach the delivery of open access to the scholarly literature. They find that ten countries have no policy, four are in a consultative process to develop policy, six rely upon the funding agency to develop and implement policy, and in four countries different agency have developed policies that are either coordinated or in need of coordination.

Ben De Meester and his colleagues from Ghent University, Belgium, presented a paper on A digital-first authoring environment for enriched e-books using EPUB 3. The project was carried out with a publishing company in Belgium. De Meester said that it is hard to make cost effective e-books as the print version always comes first using layout programmes suitable for print books. Using EPUB 3 and html5, javascript and CSS would make it possible to adapt a text both for reading on various devices such as smart phones and tablet computers, and for print.

EPISCIENCES an overlay publication platform was presented by Maud Medves and Gaelle Riveraux. And then it was time for poster presentations and I presented The Swedish e-book research project and my research. I also told the audience that more information can be found at our blog and that we have a Flipboard Magazine on e-book news (available for IOS and Android devices).

My poster was a very simple illustration of the factors that affect decision making in relation to e-book publication.

POSTER ELPUB14

On the second day key note speaker Mahendra Mahey from the British Library talked about How the British Library’s Digital Scholarship department is putting data to use for researchers through its Digital research Team and British Library Labs project. After a short break we went on to a Panel Discussion about the web, and digitial publishing etc.

Birgitta Wallin


By the Book: the book and the study of its digital transformation, publishing studies conference. Villa Finaly, Florence, Italy, 23. and 24 May 2014

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Posted by Tom Wilson for Elena Maceviciute

A conference on the ancient subject of book studies took place in a suitably romantic Florentine villa on the outskirts of Florence. It was a surprise to discover that it belongs to a the Sorbonne Paris Cité Université. A summer school for publishing students from all over Europe had just taken place and they were taught by a team of English, French, Slovenian, and German teachers. Some of both stayed to take part in the conference By the Book.

Some 40 researchers and scholars came together from several European countries and South Africa to talk about books. However, there was little talk of history; mostly the future of the book was discussed in the light of present events and turbulent changes in publishing. Most were researching the field of publishing studies, but there were some from reading and library studies.

Elena with the conference organizers

Elena with the conference organizers

Quite a lot of attention was paid to the digital phenomena intruding into all sectors of book production and transforming the traditional book trade. Alexis Weedon (University of Bedfordshire) presented the disruptive effects of e-books on production of books and outlined further possibilities of the development of enhanced e-books. Claudio Pires Franco (University of Bedfordshire) took this topic even further looking into creation of a typology for e-books on the continuum axis from “traditional book” to story based games. Laura Dietz (Anglia Ruskin University) explored the feelings and experiences of users comparing e-books and printed books. Louis Wiart (Sorbonne Paris Cité Université) looked into the evolution of readers’ communication about books online and social reading developments in France. Yours truly provided a short account of the e-books project emphasising the latest empirical findings from the survey of Swedish publishers. Frania Hall (London College of Communication) immersed the publishing studies into the wider context of creative industries and examined their structures and influence of digital technologies on their convergence. Stevie Marsden (Stirling University) talked of the experience of dealing with books and e-books or/and e-copies of printed books in the selection process by literary award organizations. It seems that literary judges are affected by the physicality of the book and see more cultural value in printed books than in e-books

There were many interesting presentations on the situation of printed publishing production as well, though very few managed avoiding digital aspects altogether. Mary Ann Kernan (City University London) presented a fascinating case study of Arden Shakespeare scholarly editions series published by Methuen from the beginning to the present. Melanie Radarshan-Bold (Loughborough University) talked about an investigation of Midland publishers in the UK, and Daniel Boswell (Anglia Ruskin University) painted a picture of the troubled history of Catalan publishing troubled history, which reminded me of the Lithuanian historical situation to some extent. Iain Stevenson (University College London) demonstrated lovely book tokens and talked about their history. Nick Canty (University College London) provided a fascinating account of bibliotherapy that was one of my passions when I was still a student. What a superb remedy for all ailments – a book. Heiko Hartmann (HTWK, Leipzig) explored the possibilities of the publishers to build their competitiveness on exploiting the functions of books that cannot be replicated in the digital environment (e.g., aesthetic satisfaction, prestige of ownership, etc.). Rachel Noorda (University of Stirling) concentrated on books as souvenirs in tourism and the heritage book market, dealing not only with publishing, but also with exploitation of stereotypes and symbols in the tourism business.

It's not all work

It’s not all work

An amazing presentation by Anke Vogel and Corinna Norrick-Ruhl (Mainz Institute for Book Studies) dealt with the issues of the printing industry’s impact on the environment. They presented the overall situation and green publishers of children’s books in Germany, and some comparison of environmental impact of printed an digital books. To my greatest surprise they did not know of Swedish investigations by the Royal Institute of Technology.

As the gathering was composed mainly of university lecturers, no wonder that quite many of them were discussing educational issues. Rose Leighton (Hogeschool van Amsterdam) presented an idea of a shared learning objects repository for publishing and book studies during the very first session. Two very interesting papers were presented by Liam Borgstrom and Elisabeth le Roux (University of Pretoria). The first talked about teaching publishing courses using the metaphor of architecture. The latter provided a broad picture of publishing business in South Africa as well as the formation of publishing studies within the Department of Information Science. Ausra Navickiene (Vilnius University) introduced the Lithuanian system of publishing studies at the Faculty of Communication in Vilnius. Despite problems with a computer, her presentation invited interest and the possibilities of publishing doctoral studies at Vilnius University were envied by many participants. Anna Faherty (Kingston University) presented a paper on the educational methods designed to strengthen student-centred studies and the responsibility of the students for their own learning.

Finally, some methodological issues were presented and discussed by the participants. Sophie Noël (Université Paris Cité) presented a social science approach to publishing studies that in France comprise the history of book, cultural economy and some art disciplines. From Croatia, Zoran Velagić (University of Osijek) and Franjo Pehar (University of Zadar) talked about methodological approaches to modern publishing and identified three discourses: physical book that you can hug and sniff is dead; practical discourse of the markets; academic discourse that is difficult to define. Benoît Berthou (Sorbonne Paris Cité Université) presented a paper by his absent colleague Bertrand Legendre on a socio-economic approach to book industry research in France.

There was enough time to discuss the presentations in sessions and during breaks and overall impression is that there are very few research areas as exciting as publishing studies in modern social science and humanities.

Swedish publishers’ views on e-books

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We have recently completed a survey of 198 publishing firms in Sweden who are members of either the Swedish Publishers’ Association or the Nordic Independent Publishers’ Association. One hundred and ten companies responded, giving a response rate of 55%, with the smaller companies (often consisting of only one or two persons) less likely to respond. The resulting data can be compared with that of ‘Global e-book. A report on market trends and developments’ (2013), which surveyed members of only the Swedish Publishers’ Association. ‘Global e-book’ reported, for example, a total of some 4,500 e-books having been published, while our estimate is a total of over 10,000, with a significant number of firms producing fewer than ten e-books, but with three or four producing more than 2,000. We also see shifts of different kinds, e.g., one company reports that all of its output is published in print and in electronic format, while another reports having started with e-book production, but turning to printed book production because, ‘We make no money from e-books’.

The dominant e-book format is EPUB, often together with PDF, with other formats having been used by only a small number of firms.

The majority of respondents expressed the opinion that the growth in the market for e-books would continue to be as slow as at present, seeing the main barrier to growth as being the readers’ preference for printed books. On the other hand, they saw the main stimulus for growth as being the readers’ preference for a convenient, portable format. The main influence on publishers’ policies with regard to e-books was seen to be the public library user. This is not surprising, given that public libraries in Sweden constitute the major part of the market for books in general and for e-books in particular. If the present problems associated with the eLib platform can be resolved and a new model for e-lending, which satisfies all parties, can be devised, the e-lending element of the market will probably attain even greater significance. (Data from the Royal Library show that e-loans in public libraries have risen from 183,000 in 2008 to 1,524,234 in 2013.)

Self-publishing has reached ‘interesting’ proportions in the USA, and respondents were asked what effect this might have on their own activities. The result is shown in the figure below.

SelfPub

A degree of ambivalence seems to exist about the relations between publishers and booksellers and between publishers and public libraries, in respect of e-books. Fifty percent of respondents felt that bookshops would continue to play a role in selling both printed books and e-books, but, at the same time (respondents could choose more than one option) some 60% believed that the role of the bookshop would decline as e-book sales increased, and more than 50% believed that direct selling by publishers would also contribute to the decline.

In relation to libraries, more than 60% thought that e-books ought to be sold to them on the same basis as printed books, but more than 50% (again, more than one choice was allowed) thought that the number of loans ought to be restricted and almost 50% thought that e-books ought to be priced higher to libraries than to individual readers.

The survey has been useful in establishing the current state of opinion on these matters and we plan further interviews with publishers who have agreed to participate to gain further, detailed information on the reasons for their views. We also plan to re-run the survey before the end of the project, to see how opinions may have shifted over a couple of years.

A report on the survey will be sent out next week to the respondents and, once that is done, it will be available to others in Swedish or English. I shall be posting an announcement about its availability but, if you wish to be sure of receiving a copy, please e-mail me (tom.wilson@hb.se) stating whether you would like the Swedish or the English version.

The “News on e-books” Flipboard magazine

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Just over a year ago I started a Flipboard “magazine” – accessible to those with an iPad or other tablet device. I was joined by Elena Maceviciute in curating the magazine and between us we manage to cover most European languages (Finnish, Estonian, Greek and Hungarian being the missing ones!) We didn’t imagine, then, that by today we would have more than 30,000 readers of the magazine. But that’s the situation. Moreover, I discovered, quite accidentally, that you can also access the magazine through your desktop browser, by clicking on this link. The contents of the magazine consist almost entirely of news items from around the world, with an occasional document in html – Flipboard does not, at present, allow the incorporation of pdf or doc files. The system is not perfect for a digital archive, since at present, it is not possible to search within an individual magazine. Perhaps that will happen at some point.

Some recent surveys

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There have been a number of reports recently on the theme of e-books, their use in libraries and their readers.  First up are a couple of reports from the Library Journal: the first, on e-books in public libraries tells us that the median collection size is now 7,380, which can be compared with 810 in 2010. On the other hand 2013 showed a slight decline in the increasing demand for e-books; only 42% of libraries reported a ‘dramatic increase’ in demand, compared with 79% in 2012. Circulation of e-books has continued to rise, however, with a 30% increase over 2012 (down from a 67% increase in the previous year).  Spending on e-books has continued to rise, now standing at 6.1% of the budget for all libraries, and anticipated to rise to 13.2% by 2018 (something that I suspect will not actually materialise, as demand overall, appears to be flattening).
 
The report on school libraries in the USA, shows that 56% of such libraries now offer e-books, but the scale if things is rather small, with the median collection consisting of only 136 items.  44% of school libraries, however, experienced a dramatic increase in demand for e-books.  This is reflected in the estimates for the impact on the budget: currently, for all school libraries, e-books take up 4.0% of the budget, but, like public libraries, they expect a significant increase to 14.7% by 2018.
 
Whether or not the projected budget changes happen would seem to depend, at least to some extent on how young people respond to the e-book phenomenon. Another report, inaccessible to me because of its £495 price tag, suggests that young people (in the UK, in this research) do not like e-books because,
 
they are too expensive,
you can’t touch them.
they don’t have an e-reader (almost 50%),
there’s nothing to ’show off’,
they don’t want to be slaves to technology – yet another thing to use a screen for.
 
But, 24% of those surveyed spend some money on e-books, but 13% of those spend less than £5 a month.
 
The final report I’d like to draw attention to surveys the situation in France – the “Baromètre 2014 de l’offre de livres numériques  en France” from the consultancy group, KPMG. This is devoted mainly to the publishing sector and shows that 62.5% of publishers are offering e-books, including all of the major publishing houses. Of those who do not, 38.1% plan to do so over the next three years.  One of the main problems they perceive is that of obtaining the digital rights for the material and, equally, the costs involved.  The ‘enriched’ e-books is fairly rare, only 2.9% of publishers report that their e-books are always ‘enriched’, with a further 8.6% saying that they are often enriched.  However, ‘enrichment’ only means links to the Internet for 23% of the respondents and added video for 18% and added audio for 14.3%.  
 
There’s much more of interest here from the publishing perspective, and it would be interesting to know as much about publishers in other countries.  Our own survey of Swedish publishers is drawing to a close and the results are showing that the split between those who publish e-books and those who do not is about 50:50.  Most suggest that the growth of e-book publishing will remain slow as at present in Sweden, and that the biggest driver of demand is the convenience and portability of the e-book.  We’ll have more to report on this survey in due course.

Electronic ain’t for everything!

YouTube has an interesting video on some recent research into the use of a university’s alumni magazine.  People had been calling for the magazine to go digital, but the University thought that it should check things out.  A consultant was called in and he ran a field test, sending the print magazine to some alumni and the e-version to others.  The video tells the rest of the story.

New Pew Research report

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Today saw the publication of a new report from Pew Research on the reading and e-reading habits of citizens of the USA. entitled “E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps“.
We have to be careful, however, about the danger of hyperbole – note the careful use of ‘rises’ for e-reading and ‘jumps’ for device ownership. This is clearly deliberate because the report finds that, The percentage of adults who read an e- book in the past year has risen to 28%, up from 23% at the end of 2012., in other words, a rather modest 5% increase, while reading print books also increased, by 4%, from 65% to 69%, suggesting that e-books still have a long way to go before the can be called a really serious contender.

And the ‘jump’ in device ownership? That, perhaps is more significant, since ownership of e-readers rose from 19% in November 2012 to 32% in January 2014 – 13% in little over a year and 8% since as recently as September, 2013. Ownership of tablet computers rose from 24% in November 2012 to 42% in January 2014, again with 8% of that increase since September, 2013. Overall, 50% of the US population has either a tablet or an e-reader, a 25% increase since 2012. Of course, if you have a tablet or an e-reader you are more likely to read e-books and it may be that we shall see a further rise in 2014 in the proportion of people reading e-books, but I suspect it will keep on merely ‘rising’, rather than ‘jumping’.

Recently, the news has been indicating a rise in e-reading in other places; for example, in the Netherlands it is reported that 2013 saw a 60% rise in e-book titles, contributing 3.2% to total revenue from book sales. In unit terms, 1.95 million e-books were sold, compared with 1.2 million in 2012. More on that story, for those who read Dutch, at Boek Blad

Readership of the blog – geographical distribution

Since we started the blog, the following table shows the number of views from each of the top 20 countries:

Country Views
Croatia 928
Sweden 521
Hungary 489
United Kingdom 385
United States 380
Lithuania 314
Netherlands 170
Australia 103
India 90
Portugal 74
Greece 67
Canada 66
Germany 60
Ireland 51
France 42
Spain 37
Hong Kong 34
Slovenia 31
Malaysia 30
Malta 29

There has been a total of 4,382 page views since we started.

And a Merry Christmas to all :-)

Tom Wilson

Report on the International Conference: Publishing–Trends and Contexts, 6-7 December, 2013, 19th Book Fair, Pula, Istria, Croatia.

The conference was jointly organized by the Departments of Information Sciences at the Universities of Zadar and Osijek and held during the 19th Book Fair in Pula, Croatia.   The electronic file for the abstracts has been made available to us and this report is based on that.

The meeting began with the three papers from the Swedish project, which have been presented earlier in this blog, and will not be described in detail here.  However,  briefly, Tom Wilson presented the e-book phenomenon as a disruptive technology and the impact of that disruption on authors, publishers, booksellers, libraries and readers.  This was followed by Elena Maceviciute’s presentation on the current state of e-book use and the associated problems in public and academic libraries in Sweden (which was jointly prepared with Martin Borg of the University of Borås Library). The Swedish contribution was completed by Stans Kersti Nilsson’s exploration of the implications on the SOM and Nordicom surveys of e-book reading and her own research into the perceived differences of reading printed books and e-books.

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Next, Arūnas Gudinavičius, from Vilnius University gave an overview of the digital publishing market in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) in which he analysed in various aspects of digital publishing in these countries. Pilot e-book sales research was done and the main e-book sellers and publishers in Baltic countries were identified. E-books in Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian languages available on sale were counted and the differences between printed and e-book pricing were analysed. An overview of the most popular e-book formats and digital publishing situation in universities was given and the role of piracy was explored.

Miha Kovač (Slovenia) and Claire Squires (Scotland) were supposed to tell their story of the similarities and differences of their respective countries – each having carried out research in the other country.  However, Claire was delayed because of the storms that had hit the UK and the paper was actually presented later.  The countries culturally and geographically different and these differences have an impact on the book market.  For example, the Scots publish in English, which provides a global audience, whereas Slovenian is spoken by the two million inhabitants of Slovenia and another half-a-million around the world, making it one of the smallest book markets in the world.   Despite these differences, both nations lacked their own nation states for much of their history and both have had to rely on non-statehood means for preserving their ethnic identity. Not surprisingly, books and written lore played important part in these processes.

Franjo Pehar and Zoran Velagić, provided an overview of the digital publishing market in Croatia, another European small language market, with focus on basic features which shaped the context of its appearance, first projects, and current state. The e-book business in Croatia has been shaped during the last decade, with the key role of non-commercial publishing. Namely, early projects and initiatives started mainly with the objective of digitising Croatian culture and by making works of literature and required school readings available in electronic format for free. Even today non-commercial publishers are representing almost half of the Croatian language e-books. The emergence of commercial e-book market dates in 2010. Its protagonists have signed agreements with ca. 30 domestic publishers; making another half of the Croatian e-book scene. E-books in Croatian publishing industry are still a new niche segment that has to be considered more of a perspective for future developments than a present reality. Dominant page to pixel model and publishers’ reluctance in developing e-books as new, print-independent products seems to be the main obstacle in building the competitive e-book enterprise at national level.

The presentation by Ivona Despot and Tomislav Jakopec offered a proposal to create a strategy to ensure the necessary conditions for the continuous development of electronic publishing in small markets such as the Croatian. The paper defined the guidelines for the establishment of a stimulating business environment for all interested participants involved in the creation and distribution of creative and cultural content. The strategy is based on creativity and innovation in business and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth following the recommendations of the Digital Agenda for Europe. The revitalisation of publishing content and boosting creativity and innovation in business can stimulate economic growth and generate new, quality jobs, create innovative publishing products and services, taking into account the fact that the developed electronic publishing is the foundation for the preservation of Croatian cultural identity and the support to the promotion of Croatian culture in the future single European digital market.

Aušra Navickienė, from Vilnius University, presented an historical perspective in surveying the work of the 19th century publisher Jozef Zawadzki.  He and his family members were among the first to found a private publishing business and contributed a lot to the development of publishing in the former Polish-Lithuanian State and the Eastern Europe region throughout the entire 19th and the first half of the 20th century (before the WW II). Józef Zawadzki, as the owner of the most modern printing house and bookstores in Vilnius and Warsaw and the introducer of novelties in publishing business in the 19th century, has been studied extensively, but there are many unstudied questions about him as the author of the first theoretical work on publishing in the region. Józef Zawadzki’s work  The project for organization of polish book production, publishing and distribution, (1818) is analysed, and his understanding of the publishing business and circumstances that contributed to its development in the first part of 19th century are explored.

Ewa Jablońska-Stefanowicz’s presentation, A publisher as a hitchhiker. The Emergence of a new business model began by noting that, today, not every piece of work aimed at readers must have the form of the book. And even if it does, the publisher no longer has to be a part of the process. Along with him, two features of traditional publishing disappear: gate keeping and the guarantee of the quality of the product. The first one is of little importance for digital publishing, and the second is not a priority for the IT companies, which more and more often play the role of weakening publishers. Some examples were analysed and attempt is made to predict what might be the consequences of these processes for the particular elements of the book market.

Zvonimir Bulaja, in Is it all non-commercial? Not necessarily, summarised two decades of e-publishing development in Croatia, including several large-scale electronic publishing ventures on different media and for different projects, both commercial and non-commercial, like “Croatian Tales of Long Ago” and eLektire.  Possible modes of collaboration with virtually all national e-book publishers and distributing platforms are explored. The presentation covered experiences, technical issues and fundamental questions, as well the current situation on the Croatian e-book market and its future perspectives and development.

In Design of e-books: readers expectations in comparative perspective, Josipa Selthofer presented the changes of graphic elements in the book design caused by the digital revolution. The paper focused on four main graphic elements: book cover, typography, colour and image, using both p-books and e-books published in Croatia from 2010 to 2012 as a source material. The research involved visual content analysis and interviews. The research results indicate that e-books imitate graphic design of a printed book, since it is still the technology in making. The graphic elements of an e-book highly depend on the features of e-formats and e-readers. Main advantages of e-books are that they are searchable, adoptable, transportable, easily accessible, durable and that they can be easily linked to other digital documents. Still, the majority of interviewees pointed out that reading of an e-book is something new to them. They prefer interaction with the physical printed book and its visual appearance.

Nives Tomašević, of the University of Zadar, and one of the conference organizers, examined The Nomenclature of Publishing in the Framework of Creative and Cultural Industry. Creative and cultural industries unify the larger part of creative or cultural activities and lately, they are trying to find an optimal classification for defining their activities, as well as for tracking and directing them. In some countries of the EU, the classification frames are in agreement about the specified division, even though some state requires only nomenclatural solutions. Publishing activity, as well as other activities in the Republic of Croatia, is filed by the National Classification of Activities (NKD 2007 – NN 58/2007) which specifies publishing activity within section 58, with subdivisions  book publishing (58.11),  publishing of phone books and lists of user’s addresses (58.12),  publishing of newspapers (58.13),  publishing of magazines and periodic publications (58.14), and remaining publishing activities (58.15). This paper deals with disputes and challenges of agreement between the Republic of Croatia’s NKD and classifications of ESSnet – Culture, as well as challenges of future comparative studies based on (in)consistent classifications.

According to Dubravka Đurić Nemec, the advent of digital technologies and the pressure to develop business models capable of supporting digital content creation and delivery will undoubtedly lead to profound changes in the traditional publishing paradigm. Publishers will have to move from a  product to a service mindset, new skills will have to be acquired and new business models developed, taxonomies and stakeholder roles will have to redefined. On the other hand, the technological advance and the emergence of the e-book will impact cultural policies and necessarily bring about a shift in strategic priorities. A brief overview of the models and support measures evolved by the Ministry of Culture to meet the emerging challenges of the Croatian digital market was provided.

In Why do libraries need publishers more than ever? Re-use of publishers’ metadata in national bibliographic centres regarding legal deposit Mirna Willer explored metadata in the context of the role of national libraries.  She noted that national bibliographic centres traditionally depend on publishers in providing bibliographic information for legal deposit items. The usual working process of the cooperation is recording of the CIP (Cataloguing-In-Publication) data in a national library’s database or catalogue based on the final editorial (pre-publication) copy of the publication submitted by the publisher. The CIP data or only database record identifier are then recorded in the published item. This process, although two-directional, is in fact one-directional: it is the bibliographic centre that provides bibliographic data – metadata for the publication. The present day technology that impacts publishing process, number and form of publications, and concepts of bibliographic metadata production, requires re-thinking this relationship. She argued that the use of publishers’ metadata standard ONIX has already changed this information flow paradigm – the direction being publisher to bibliographic centre, and that its recognition in developing new ways of relation between publishers and bibliographic centres and national libraries can benefit both parties, as well as users.

Dunja Seiter Šverko, in E-books in libraries: organization of digital contents in National and University Library [NUL] in Zagreb considered that, given increased activity of Croatian publishers in the field of electronic publishing and their need to broaden their cooperation with the NUL to include digital publishing, it is necessary to ensure professional and organisational conditions for collecting and permanently archiving electronic legal deposit in accordance with the legal role and obligations of the NUL. Owing to this, the Library undertook to develop the model and architecture of the Croatian E-book System based on requirements related to the functionality of the national digital library system as well as the functionality related to the permanent archiving of items belonging to contemporary Croatian digital heritage. The establishment of a fully-developed system will provide a modern and user-friendly technological environment for publishers and users which would enable permanent archiving, but also n increased use of Croatian digital resources, while a further development of the aggregator system, i.e. a collecting system that is so far unique in Croatia, will help reinforce the leading role of the NUL in Zagreb in science and culture.

There was one other presentation that dealt with technology use in schools, which has not been covered by this report, with its focus on the e-book.

The Swedish contingent enjoyed the meeting and found it very productive, not least in forging connections that we hope to collaborate with in the future.

The initial talks of the closer collaboration and using unified research instruments for comparative research throughout the smaller countries in Europe were carried out with Croatian, Slovenian, Polish and Lithuanian colleagues. Information about relevant conferences was also exchanged and mutual interest in e-book research expressed. One of the doctoral projects in Croatia on e-book aggregators and their role in the chain of e-book distribution seems to be relevant to a doctoral project in Sweden dealing with broader issues of e-book distribution actors.

The atmosphere of the conference was friendly and creative, the discussions lively and serious that usually happens when participants share research interests and feel cooperative rather than competitive. There were numerous fun and serious working moments during the whole duration of the conference.  Some more pictures are to be found here.

“Judge dismisses authors’ case against Google”

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This, and similar headlines, have been prominent in various newsletters in recent weeks, although the result seems to have surprised no one. I was astonished that the authors should bring the case against Google, since Google’s efforts to index books and make available clips in response to search enquiries actually makes it more likely that hitherto forgotten works will come to public attention and perhaps sell again.
The judge’s commentary on the value of Google Books to education, research and society at large is worth repeating – here with internal citations to supporting documents removed and slightly reduced:

The benefits of the Library Project are many. First, Google Books provides a new and efficient way for readers and researchers to find books… Google Books has become an essential research tool, as it helps librarians identify and find research sources, it makes the process of interlibrary lending more efficient, and it facilitates finding and checking citations. Indeed, Google Books has become such an important tool for researchers and librarians that it has been integrated into the educational system — it is taught as part of the information literacy curriculum to students at all levels.

Second, in addition to being an important reference tool, Google Books greatly promotes a type of research referred to as “data mining” or “text mining.” Google Books permits humanities scholars to analyze massive amounts of data — the literary record created by a collection of tens of millions of books. Researchers can examine word frequencies, syntactic patterns, and thematic markers to consider how literary style has changed over time…

Third, Google Books expands access to books… [it] provides print-disabled individuals with the potential to search for books and read them in a format that is compatible with text enlargement software, text-to-speech screen access software, and Braille devices. Digitization facilitates the conversion of books to audio and tactile formats, increasing access for individuals with disabilities. Google Books facilitates the identification and access of materials for remote and underfunded libraries that need to make efficient decisions as to which resources to procure for their own collections or through interlibrary loans.

Fourth, Google Books helps to preserve books and give them new life. Older books, many of which are out-of-print books that are falling apart buried in library stacks, are being scanned and saved. These books will now be available, at least for search, and potential readers will be alerted to their existence.

Finally, by helping readers and researchers identify books, Google Books benefits authors and publishers. When a user clicks on a search result and is directed to an “About the Book” page, the page will offer links to sellers of the book and/or libraries listing the book as part of their collections… Hence, Google Books will generate new audiences and create new sources of income.

In summing up, the judge concluded:

In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits. It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders. It has become an
invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits.

What are the implications of this ruling for Google’s potential e-book publishing programme? Google already has an e-book store under the Google Play label, where it sells “regular” e-books, i.e., those published by the established publishing houses, along with self-published books and also freely available books. This judgement does not appear to affect the possible selling of so-called “orphan works”, i.e., those for which no copyright holder can be found, but Google might go ahead on this in any event. What the rule may do is persuade authors that they have more to gain through collaboration with Google than through fighting it and, having lost the case, I imagine that many authors will now be looking to gain some income from their out-of-print works, particularly if they hold the copyright and have not signed it away to their publisher. I would expect more news from Google on the e-book front. The judge’s decision, by the way, is well worth reading in full – and one can’t say that often about judicial rulings!

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