Progress on the monograph

We’ve come to the end of the Project and are now busy on the final bit of work on the monograph we promised Vetenskapsrådet we would deliver.  It’s all written, coming to about 200 pages, and will be published by Nordicom, another survey agency at the University of Gothenburg.  We should be finished with the final copy-editing in the next few days and I imagine that the book will be published before the end of June.  A typical price for Nordicom’s publications is about 250SEK (€25, £22, $28), and there will also be an e-book version.  I will keep this blog open to report when the book is available, but it is unlikely that we’ll be posting much before then.

The real story?

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The previous blog post talked about biased news about e-books as a result of journalists failing to understand the nature of the data they quote.  Here’s a much more nuanced approach to the issue: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-hiltzik-ebooks-market-share-20170502-story.html

Michel Hiltzik has done his homework, and points out that, “The Big 5 — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random House — account for 37% of the overall book market, but only 26% of all ebook sales”.

Decline in e-book sales? Fake news?

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Once again the journalistic pencils are out, drafting articles about the decline in the sales of e-books, ignoring, once again, that the statistics they are quoting are partial, and biased towards the sales of the ‘big four’ – Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette and HarperCollins, companies that dominate not only the American market, but also the English-speaking market world wide.

And we know why their e-book sales have declined: it is because they derive all their profits from the printed book and they have no coherent business plan for making money from e-books and, consequently, are pricing them out of the market.  As one of our Swedish publishers said – and I have to paraphrase – “Publishing is run by old guys like me, if it was run by 20 to 25-year olds, things would be very different!”

These journalistic scribblers have no data on the sale of e-books by Amazon, or any of the e-book middle-men like Smashwords or Author House, or any other of the independent publishers that are not members of the AAP or the Publishers Association in the UK.

They also ignore the world picture – they report nothing of sales in Germany, France, Spain or South America, let alone Africa, Malaysia, Japan and China. In other words, it rapidly approaches fake news!

E-book sales keep on growing

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A few years ago, some commentators (high on something or other, perhaps) were forecasting the death of the printed book, now some (often the same!) are forecasting the death of the e-book.

This is all the result of reports of declining sales of e-books in reports from the Association of American Publishers, home of the Big Four, i.e., the same publishers that negotiated agency terms with Amazon in order to lift the price of e-books to the same level as their printed books. And while their sales fell, the sales of Amazon-published and independently published e-books continued to rise.

AuthorEarning.com has been monitoring all of this for some time now, and its February 2017 report makes interesting reading. It shows, for example, that in the USA e-book sales are now 42% of all book sales, in the UK and Canada, 34%, and in Australia 28% – so much for the “death of the e-book” – in the USA and the UK that amounts to 1.5 e-books per year per head of population. In the USA total sales of e-books was 487,280,000 in the year to February 2017 giving a total sales value of $3,177,000. So perhaps the Big Four got things wrong and, seeking to preserve printed-book profits (on which, remember, they recover ALL the costs of production for both formats), in effect gave up on e-books.

Well, one of the Big Four, Hachette, seems to have realised that it got things wrong and has now bought the UK e-book publisher Bookoutre (set up, I believe by a former Hachette manager). Bookoutre sold about six million copies of e-books last year, mainly through Amazon and Philip Jones on the Bookseller site comments:

Bookouture has profited from an e-book market many in the trade have misread. Amazon’s strong growth in Kindle sales from 2009 onwards led some to believe that digital sales would overtake and ultimately kill off print book sales; the threat level was later downgraded to trade titles, then to commercial books, and then finally to commercial fiction. But the big publisher strategies are still largely predicated on those early predictions, with agency pricing (fixed pricing for e-books) introduced first to stave off the likelihood of a print’s sudden collapse, and secondly to curb Amazon’s run-away growth. The strategy is to price e-books in line with their print equivalents so that the digital format does not gain a competitive advantage over what is for the major publishers the important physical market. However, such a rigid approach fails to take into account that some titles and lots of e-books appear to work better at lower prices; in short that the Kindle store is not the same as the physical book market. Rather than declining, the e-book market has splintered away from its print echo.

And goes on to say, “In buying a fast-growing e-book specialist Hachette is clearly trying to plug the gap it helped to create”. Can we expect similar acquisitions from the other big publishers? I expect we can, since, if they continue with their present strategy, they are going to find that the growth in e-book sales is not going to be to their benefit.

Conference report: 4th International Conference on Publishing Trends and Contexts, 1-2 December, 2016, Zagreb, Croatia

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The recent publishing conference organized for the fourth time by our colleagues from Croatian universities was hosted and supported by Goethe Institut in Zagreb. As usual it was sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of Croatia.

This time we had to wait till Bora wind will allow the bus with the participants and students from the University of Zadar to get through the long tunnel on the road between two cities. After some delay they have arrived safely and the house was full. The main organizer prof. Nives Tomašević with the Manager of the Institute Ostwald-Richter have opened the first session of the conference.

Over two days twelve papers were presented at the conference that looked at quite different issues and publishing areas.

Christoph Bläsi from Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz has characterized the market of schoolbooks for secondary schools (K12) that seems to be taken omitted by publishing researchers and mainly investigated by educational and didactic scholars. not worthy of investigation. Meanwhile, school publishing experienced great influence of state and is marked by great complexity of the products. It is also governed by very specific business model as the publishers know exact number of potential users and have a long-term perspective of its development. There is a large number of influential interest groups that follow their activity and assess their products. They have to take into accounts new competitors who arrive to the market after official approval, new practices in schools and cope with teacher generated content. Christoph has done an overview of existing research literature outlining specific features, advantages and risks of school publishing, the consequences of state intervention in different countries, and move of many publishers into provision of customized services and technologies. Digital learning era will change the positions of publishers quite significantly, though at the moment publishers together with teachers are criticized fro promoting conventional values.

Adrian van der Weel and Christof Bläsi

Adrian van der Weel and Christof Bläsi

Miha Kovač (University of Ljubljana) has presented investigation of bestsellers in European countries in 2008-2014 that he has conducted together with Ruediger Wischenbart (Vienna). They have examined the bestsellers’ lists in West European countries that have trustworthy information about them for the chosen period. They used certain coefficient methodology taking into account the sizes of different markets to produce comparable data. During 2008-2010 English bestsellers dominated European lists with 40 per cent and were closely followed by Swedish and Italian ones. Only translations from dominating languages could be found in the lists for this period. In 2010-2014, the list has change: translations from English shrank to 36 per cent, and the Nordic translations exploded, and new languages appeared. The bestseller list became more diverse, more bestseellers from non-European languages could be found. However, three first English language bestsellers (set in American contexts) were far ahead of the rest. Overall the diversity of the European list was not so big. The investigation also has shown that the generation process of big bestsellers has changed. Stieg Larsson (Swedish bestselling author) has arrived to it in a common way: was known journalist, had contacts in publishing, died at the right moment, was translated to German without success. Then the publisher of his French translation invested more in Millenium trilogy that sold better than their other books, here the promotion started and spread over Europe with English translation coming latest. Thus, the intermediating languages for bestsellers in Europe are French and German. The success comes in a traditional way through promotion. On the other hand E.L. James published through fanfiction, got peer reviewed and corrected the text. It came to the publishers after selling 250000 copies of e-book. Entirely new way to become a bestseller was established. In 2016, German Amazon has nine bestsellers and all are self-published, the same has happened in English and Italian, where at least half of bestsellers are self-published or produced by small imprints. It remains to be seen if it is a change of culture or two different cultures existing side by side.

Adrian van der Weel (University of Leiden) investigated the issue of authority in alternative scholarly publication. He noted that despite changing scholarly communication and move to digital sphere authors and institutions still want to produce authoritative works, users are looking for them, funding agencies want to invest in them, general public also is interested in authoritative works. The areas of change affect three elements of authority: infrastructure, function, form. Technology infrastructure has low authority effects, people do not take digital text as seriously as paper ones, which are produced using traditional infrastructure.

Function relates to research culture that consists of national and disciplinary tradition, certification, peer review, registration, research assessment, and authority demands. Form includes formal and informal output. At present, boundaries between formal and informal become slightly porous. Output becomes formal because of explicit criteria, such as, editorial filtering for object and quality, production of record for copyright and intellectual ownership. Paper connects author, object and text in a way, which does not allow taking them apart and this produces symbolic value. Publishers start experimenting with different publishing formats and become a little less formal. Creators outside formal publishing try to experiment with formal publishing ways of working, trying to become more formal and authoritative. So, we have to answer the question if digital substitutes can acquire the same authority as paper publications. It can be done in various ways, e.g., by replacing formal characteristic by assessment of the authority.

Zoran Velagić and Tomislav Jakopec (University of Osijek) gave an interesting overview of the used books market online. They have opened the discussion with the discussion of the term ‘used book category’, which is far from clear. In fact, it is everything what is sold in the certain type of sale channels, outside the usual market sales channels that are basically uncontrolled. Used book market is difficult to trace as a whole. The domains of it are: antiquarians, street peddlers, exchange between users, e-commerce and second hand trade online services, and exchange online. Reconstruction of the used book markets is, on one hand, easier to track online, but almost impossible to reconstruct as there are many unknown sales channels. Even the size of it is not established, though assumptions are made that it hurts publishing industry. It is out of the control of publishers and used to be so for a long time. E-books allow the control of the sold copies and of the whole book market. So, the question is if the used book market will survive, though it used to exist in different historical periods. At present publishers’ strategies vary: textbook publishers produce fragile products and republish them frequently. Exploring the used book market online requires special tools and skills: web crawling by the bots (no human intervention, gets only structured data from well known sites); manual input (the only way to get data about books not online and very time consuming). The possible tools for online exploration were introduced.

Franjo Pehar (University of Zadar) has looked into user experience and usability for digital publishing. Usability comes before user experience. It is connected with and is an expression of user interaction with the system. It helps to remove the obstacles for interaction and meet the standards. User experience refers to how user feels using the product and the emotions of the user. The main principles of printed book design are transposed to the digital world, but with significant elements of change. So far, complaints about digital products are many and relate to orientation, navigation, distraction, page layout and so on. The context affects usability and user experience and it is difficult to standardize different contexts. The author overviewed related research topics in publishing studies: user perception and interaction, usage of e-books and digital textbooks, usability of platforms, adaptive learning and social media, applications and formats. Many practical tips and approaches to design are employed in publishing, such as, readability vs legibility, serif vs sans serif, computer screen vs paper, line length and format, peripheral vs central vision, colour blindness and many more. Though there are different formative or summative testing methods, one right way to get usable products producing the best user experience was not found.

A view of the audience - serious listeners!

A view of the audience – serious listeners!

Ewa Jabłońska-Stefanowicz (University of Wrocław) examined the principles of book statistics and in particular e-book statistics in Poland. The legal deposit serves as the basis for the national bibliography. Digital documents and publications are sent to digital depository. E-books receive special e-ISBN in exchange for metadata. But the producers of e-books are on the whole quite different from traditional publishers. Variety of registries and methods to record e-books produce very different data about the output of e-books. Sometimes it is not quite clear what is actually registered – e-books, different digital documents, or other computer files. Therefore, the author has tried to carry out an independent research to find out how many e-books are available in Poland.

Nives Tomasevic and Elena Maceviciute

Nives Tomasevic and Elena Maceviciute

Elena Macevičiūtė and Tom Wilson (University of Borås) have explored the issues and forms of competition among the publishers of e-books in Sweden. Using the data from the interviews with Swedish publishers they have identified tensions between big and small publishers, competition between e-book retailers and new entrants, such as, subscription services, but also with public libraries. Swedish e-books compete mainly with their printed counterparts as well as with e-books in English and other digital media. This competition is felt in Sweden acutely because the most popular reading device is a tablet computer that also provides access to social media, digital films, TV, radio, and games.

Benoît Berthou (Sorbonne Paris Cité University) talked about book as graphic media, namely, about comic books in France. This sector is growing fast (up to 450 per cent) and comic books are read by one third of French population. The genres of comic books are quite different and there are differences between comics that are inventions of famous authors, series of publications, and comics based on specific characters. Benoît has demonstrated two cases: the author comic and the character-based comic. Comic landscape in France is at present quite international. Though the most popular are comic albums (France), but comics from the USA, mangas from Asia, and graphic novels from the UK are quite widespread. Most translations are made from Japanese and English. The quality of books is high and they are establishing themselves as adult books.

Josipa Selthofer (University of Osijek) has continued the topic on comic books. She presented comic book market in Croatia. This literature was thriving in Croatia as part of previous Yugoslavia, but was practically non-existent after the Independence war (1991–1995). At that period publishers did not get return on investment, best designers worked for foreigners, consumers did not accept high prices of the production. Josipa has introduced Croatian authors, comic characters and main features. Since 2002 the comic books started to revive on commercial basis and their popularity has returned.

Anita Papić and Domagoj Sajter (University of Osijek) have measured the financial health of Croatian publishing market in 2010-2015. It was an unusual economic approach to publishing market for this conference. Anita has explained how financial health of markets is measured and provided the main data. The economic data showed reclining trend of publishers revenue in 2010-2015. Biggest dip the market has taken in 2013. However, the losses from printed books are not taken up by revenues from e-books, therefore, it is obvious that e-books do not cannibalize the sales of physical books.

Two final presentations of the first day were transferred to the next morning due to the later start and flight delays of the presenters.

Michael Bhaskar (Canelo Digital Publishing) has talked about publishing as a specific form of criticism. This function of publishing becomes more and more important as the overwhelming abundance of text is produced and this is the greatest change from Gutenberg. Even before the printing press people thought that there is too much to read and since the mass of books was continually growing. At present the price of text production is close to zero, and literature publishing is huge (one million English books a year). One can regard publishing of books as the first instance of criticism on a book. Publishers are fundamental critics and interpreters of a book. They create the initial approach to an author and a book. Michael produced and example of Lee Child who is positioned as a thriller writer bought in airports. Despite his literary merits, his publisher does not want him to be compared with Camus or Servantes. Text editing is the ultimate act of criticism, but also cover design, pricing (Jane Austin may be priced as an object of study or a beach read), reviewing is specific outlets. Digital technology removes other functions and leaves the critical function in the centre. In the world of textual abundance the publisher keeps the filters that help to manage this overabundance of books. We are left with a system of interpretations helping to position the texts. Curation becomes the act of selection and evaluation. The publishers turn into librarians by executing critical function and managing the abundance.

Sophie Noël (Sorbonne Paris Cité University) looked into radical independent presses in France at the turn of the 21st century as a new form of political and intellectual engagement. She was interested how this influential minority publishing can affect the mainstream publishing. Sophie has investigated 35 publishers, that are independent, not militant, not connected to larger groups, and were created onwards from 1985 in the wake of anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements. They are in academic, trade, political and avant-garde sectors. The niche is small but very dynamic, characterized by political engagement. Most are small, but also established, publishing from three up to 50 titles. They compete with mainstream publishers in France, their books are found everywhere in French bookshops and on Amazon. They form a community of vision, are socially engaged, publish theoretical essays and academic texts, small formats and paperbacks (radical series have to be cheap and accessible). Their production filled in the gap as mainstream publishers did not publish political and revolutionary classics and translations. These presses put radical debate back on political agenda, and the mainstream publishers also started creating radical series. Still, these radical presses and mainstream publishing remain apart and different in many respects. Independent publishers and booksellers are working differently and go hand in hand.

The day was finished by a Round table with Croatian publishers. After the presentation of the COST E-READ action, the European Association of Publishing Studies, the situation of Croatian book market, the programme of Publishing studies in Croatia and the publishing projects of the students, Miha has provoked an interesting discussion about the economics and responsibility of publishers, the motives of their activities, the criteria for choosing authors and texts for publishing and the development of book sector in Croatia in general.

Posted for Elena Maceviciute

The E-books Research Group – Minus 1

ebookgroupWe are coming to the end of the Project and the Group met in Borås before Christmas to discuss the chapters written and in process of being written for the promised monograph. So it seemed fitting, as we are piecing together words into sentences and paragraphs, to take a shot of the group (minus the photographer) inside Jaume Plensa’s sculpture, House of Knowledge.
From left to right: Kersti Nilsson, Elena Maceviciute, Annika Bergstöm, Birgitta Wallin, and Lars Höglund.

An update to the Project’s publication list

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2016

Research papers

Bergström, A. & Höglund, L. (2016). E-bokens spridning saktar in. [The e-book’s spread is slowing.] In: Jonas Ohlsson, Henrik Oscarsson & Maria Selevid, (Eds.) Ekvilibrium (pp. 419-429). Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg: SOM-institutet.

Maceviciute, E. (2016). E-books and public libraries in Sweden. In Tanacković, S.F. and Ivanović, M.D., (Eds.). Ogledi o informacijskim znanostima: zbornik radova u čast Tatjane Aparac-Jelušić (Views of information science: proceedings in honour of Tatjana Aparac-Jelušić). Osijek i Zadar: Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta Josipa Jurja Strossmayera u Osijeku, Sveučilište u Zadaru.

Maceviciute E. (2016). Er der brug for en balance? Udlån og salg af e-bøger i Sverige [Is the balance necessary? Loans and sales of e-books in Sweden]. In Bog- och litteratur panelet. Bogen och litteraturens vilkor 2016: Bog- och litteraturpanelets årsrapport, (pp. 60—66). Köpenhamn: Bog- og Litteraturpanelets sekretariat. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2gU3DYg

Macevičiūtė, E. (2016) Elektroninių knygų platinimas per Švedijos fizinius knygynus ir viešąsias bibliotekas [Distribution of digital books in Sweden]. Knygotyra, 66, 231-246.

Wilson, T.D. (2016). Investigating the impact of the e-book in Sweden. In Hans Dillaerts and Benôit Epron (Eds.). L’offre de livres numériques à destination des bibliothèques de lecture publique : un regard international. Séminaire, Enssib, 2014-2015. (pp. 129-156). Villeurbanne, France: Presses de l’enssib, Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2hTB2mm

Wilson, T.D. (2016). Theoretical approaches to e-book research. Libellarium, 9(1). Retrieved from http://www.libellarium.org/index.php/libellarium/article/view/277/355l

Wilson, T.D. & Maceviciute, E. (2016). Publishers’ responses to the e-book phenomenon: survey results from three ‘small language’ markets. Information Research, 21(4), paper 725. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/21-4/paper725.html

Presentations in conferences and seminars

Maceviciute E. (2016). Is the balance necessary? Loans and sales of e-books in Sweden. Bog- og Litteraturpanelet seminar om biblioteker og e-bøger, 3. maj 2016, Köpenhamn. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/2hiZTN1

Maceviciute, E. & Nilsson, S.K. (2016). Digital läsning i Sverige. [Digital reading in Sweden.] Presentation at SFIF conference Teknikdagen, Norrköping, 19 October 2016.

Maceviciute, E. and Nilsson, S.K. (2016). Påverkar e-boken vårt sätt att läsa? (Do e-books affect our reading?). In SFIS Mellansveriges Teknikdag 2016. Open Access, Koha och e-resurser: Hur påverkas användare och bibliotek? Arbetets museum, Norrköping, 19 October 19, 2016.

Maceviciute, E. & Wilson, T.D. (2016). Divided positions and common expectations: publishers on e-books in Sweden. Paper presented at By the Book: Building Audiences for the Book in an Age of Media Proliferation, Florence, 23-24 June, 2016.

Maceviciuite, E. & Wilson, T.D. (2016). How do Swedish publishers perceive competition within e-book publishing? Paper presented at 4th International Conference on Publishing Trends and Contexts, 1-2 December 2016 – Zagreb, Croatia.

Wallin, B. (2016). E-boken i Sverige. [The e-book in Sweden.] Presentation at Axiell’s stand. Gothenburg Bookfair, 22 September 2016.

Thesis

Tattersall Wallin, E. (2016). ”Det är annat än själva läsningen inblandat i läsningen.” Om unga vuxnas läsupplevelser av e-böcker. Unpublished Master´s thesis, University of Borås. Borås, Sweden. (Supervisor S.K. Nilsson). Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2h6f6Co

2015

Research papers

Bergström, A. & Höglund, L. (2015) E-boken – i skuggan av den tryckta. I Annika Bergström, Bengt Johansson, Henrik Oscarsson, och Maria Oskarson, (Eds.). Fragment. Gothenburg, Sweden: SOM-institutet, Göteborgs universitet. (SOM-rapport nr 63.)

Gudinavičius, A., Šuminas, A. & Maceviciute, E. (2015). E-book publishing in Lithuania: the publisher‘s perspective. Information Research, 20(2), paper 672. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/20-2/paper672.html

Macevičiūtė, E. (2015). Conference report: International Conference ‘Publishing Trends and Contexts 2014, Focus: Digital Authors and Electronic Books’, 8-9 December, 2014, Pula, Croatia.Information Research, 20(1), paper 653. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/20-1/paper653.html

Maceviciute, E.; Borg, M.; Kuzminiene, R. y Konrad, K. La adquisición de los libros electrónicos en las bibliotecas de los centros de enseñanza superior de Suecia. Anales de Documentación, 18(1). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.6018/analesdoc.18.1.224341

Maceviciute, E., Wallin, B. & Nilsson, S.K. (2015). Book selling and e-books in Sweden. Libellarium, 8(1), 15-29. Retrieved from http://www.libellarium.org/index.php/libellarium/article/view/211/303

Nilsson, S.K., Maceviciute, E., Wilson, T.D., Bergström, A. & Höglund, L. (2015). The tensions of e-book creation and distribution in a small-language culture. Northerns Lights: Film & Media Studies Yearbook, 13, 29-47.

Wilson, T.D. (2015). E-books: the publishers’ dilemma. Libellarium, 8(1), 5-13. Retrieved from http://www.libellarium.org/index.php/libellarium/article/view/210/298

Presentations in conferences and seminars

Bergström, A., and Höglund, L. (2015). E-books – in the shadow of print. In NordMedia Conference, Division 5, Session 7, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, August 13-15, 2015.

Bergström, A., Höglund, L., Maceviciute, E. och Wilson, T.D. (2015). Vem älskar e-böcker: seminariet på Digitala Torget i Göteborgs Bokmässan, 24 september, 2015. Programm på http://www.bokmassan.se/en/programme/participants-2015/?person=114255

Maceviciute, E. (2015). Publishers’ dilemma and trouble for librarians. In Nordic E-book Conference “Scholarly e-books in your native language – Why, why not or when?”, October 1-2, 2015, DFFU, Copenhagen. Retrieved from http://www.dfdf.dk/images/2015_-_Scholarly_e-books/Elena.pdf

Maceviciute, E. and Wilson, T.D. (2015). Ebooks in academic libraries – the Swedish perspective. In International Symposium “By the Book: Books and Reading in the Age of Media Overload”, Florence, June 18-19, 2015.

Maceviciute E. and Nelhans, G. (2015). Examining research literature on e-books: quantitative and qualitative approach. In 3rd International Conference on Publishing Trends and Contexts, University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia, 20th November, 2015.

Nilsson, K. (2015). Authors’ opinions about e-book. In 3rd International Conference on Publishing Trends and Contexts, University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia, 20th November, 2015.

Nilsson, S.K., Ahlinder, K., Ardelius, G., Lindberg, N. & Malm, M. (2015). Vem älskar den svenska e-boken? – litet språkområde med stora frågor. [Who loves the Swedish e-book? – A small language area with big issues] Seminar, Gothenburg Bookfair, 24 September 2015. Moderator: S.K. Nilsson.

Wilson, T.D. (2015). Theoretical approaches to e-book research. In 3rd International Conference on Publishing Trends and Contexts, University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia, 20th November, 2015.

Wilson, T.D., Nilsson, S.K., Maceviciute, E., Bergström, A., & Höglund, L. (2015). The e-book phenomenon in Sweden. Invited presentation at the University of Murcia, Spain, November, 2015.

Thesis

Holmstedt, Linn och Topelius, Stefanie. (2015). E-böckernas vilkor: en fallstudie av biblioteken i Solentuna. Borås: Högskolan i Borås (supervisor E. Maceviciute).

2014

Balling, G., Dahl, T.A., Mangen, A., Nilsson K., Lund, H. and Höglund L. (2014) E-bogen. Skandinaviske perspektiver på forskning og uddannelse. Nordisk Tidsskrift for Informationsvidenskab og Kulturformidling, 3(1), 5-19.

Bergström, A. & Höglund, L. (2014). A national survey of early adopters of e-book reading in Sweden. Information Research, 19(2) paper 621. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/19-2/paper621.html

Bergström, Annika och Höglund, Lars (2014) E-boken: möjligheter och hinder. I Bergström, Annika och Oscarsson, Henrik (red). Mittfåra & marginal. (pp. 239-252), Göteborg: SOM-institutet, Göteborgs universitet. (SOM-rapport nr 61).

Maceviciute, E., Borg, M., Kuzminiene R. & Konrad, K. (2014). The acquisition of e-books in the libraries of the Swedish higher education institutions. Information Research, 19(2) paper 620. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/19-2/paper620.html

Maceviciute E., Nilsson, K., Wilson, T., Bergström, A. and Höglund, L. (2014). The case of the e/book in “small language” culture: media technology and the digital society. Knygotyra, 62, 73-93.
Nilsson, Skans Kersti. (2014). Reading in changing society: Some impact in the Swedish context. In Lauristin, M. and Vihalemm P. (eds.) Reading in changing society, (pp. 118-132). Tartu: University of Tartu Press.

Special issue of Information Research (ed. T.D. Wilson), 2014, vol. 19, issue 2.

Wilson, T.D. (2014). The e-book phenomenon: a disruptive technology Information Research, 19(2) paper 612. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/19-2/paper612.html

Presentations in conferences

Maceviciute E. and Wilson T. The e-book phenomenon in Sweden. In Publishing studies conference “By the book: the book and the study of its digital transformation”, 23-24 May, 2014, Vila Finaly, Florence, Italy. Retrieved from http://publishing.brookes.ac.uk/resources/florence2014/maceviciute_the_ebook_phenomenon_in_sweden.pdf

Wallin, Birgitta and Maceviciute, Elena (2014) Main actors in provision of fiction e-books in a small language market: a Swedish case. In ELPUB2014. Let’s put data to use: digital scholarship for the next generation, 18th International Conference on Electronic Publishing 19-20 June 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece. http://elpub.scix.net/cgi-bin/works/Show?113_elpub2014

Theses

Kuzminiene, Ramune. (2014). E-books in Irish university libraries: changes and challenges in collection development and acquisitions. Unpublished Master’s thesis. (Supervisor E. Maceviciute) Retrieved from http://bada.hb.se/handle/2320/13840

Zemaityte, Justina (2014). Skaitmeninės knygos galimybės ir grėsmės: rašytojų nuomonė ir patirtys (Opportunities and threats of digital books: writers’ opinions and experiences). Unpublished Bachelor’s thesis. Vilnius: Vilniaus universitetas. (Supervisor E. Maceviciute)

2013

Research papers

Bergström, Annika and Höglund, Lars. (2013). Tidiga läsare av e-böcker. I, Lennart Weibull, Henrik Oscarsson, and Annika Bergström (red.) Vägskal. (pp. 357-367). Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet Som-institutet.

Maceviciute E. and Borg M. (2013). The current situation of e-books in academic and public libraries in Sweden. Libellarium, 6(1-2), 13-28. Retrieved from http://www.libellarium.org/index.php/libellarium/article/view/181/195

Macevičiūtė, E. & Wilson, T.D. (2013). E-books in Swedish public libraries: policy implications. In, T. Aalberg, C. Papatheodorou, M. Dobreva, G. Tsakonas, G. and C.J. Farrugia. (Eds.) Proceedings of the International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries: Sharing Meaningful Information, Valletta, Malta, September 22-26, 2013. (pp. 29-34). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag. (Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 8092).

Wilson T. (2013). The e-book phenomenon: a disruptive technology. Libellarium, 6(1-2), 3-12. Retrieved from http://www.libellarium.org/index.php/libellarium/article/view/180/203

Presentations in conferences

Höglund L. Presentation of the project in Oslo, 2013, June.

Höglund, L. & Maceviciute E. E-book project: e-bokens framväxt i ett litet språkområde: media, teknologi och effekter i det digitala samhället. Internationella jamförelse: små och stora språkområde. SOM-institut möte, 2013, April 13.

Macevičiūtė, E. & Wilson, T.D. E-books in Swedish public libraries: policy implications. In International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries: Sharing Meaningful Information, Valletta, Malta, September 22-26, 2013.

Maceviciute E. & Borg M. The current situation of e-books in academic and public libraries in Sweden. International Conference “Publishing Trends and Contexts“, Pula, Croatia, 6-7 December, 2013.

Maceviciute, E., Nilsson K., Wilson, T.D., Bergström, A. and Höglund, L. The case of the e-book in “small language” culture: media technology and the digital society. 22nd International Book Science Conference “Traditional and electronic publishing in a small country: experiences and perspectives”, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania, September 26–27, 2013.

Nilsson K. The Impact of e-books in a small language culture: readers and reading. International Conference “Publishing Trends and Contexts“, Pula, Croatia, 6-7 December, 2013.

Nilsson K. Young adults reading. Conference “Reading in Changing Society”, Tartu, Estonia, 31 October – 1 November, 2013.

Thesis

Konrad, Katherine. (2013). Old habits in a new world? E-book management techniques at an academic library. Unpublished Master’s thesis. Borås: University of Borås. (Supervisor E. Maceviciute). Retrieved from http://bada.hb.se/handle/2320/12674

The EU ruling on public library lending of e-books

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The blogs and mailing lists are agog over the decision of the EU Court to the effect that e-books may be loaned by public libraries on the same basis as printed books. Publishers’ organizations appear to be bent on completely misunderstanding the decision, which requires that only one person at a time may download a copy of an e-book, just as only one person at a time can borrow a printed book. But we find the Publishers’ Association in the UK claiming:

“This court decision raises concerns about the implications for the emerging ebooks market. In our view there is a fundamental difference between printed books and ebooks in that digital copies can be copied and borrowed by an unlimited number of readers.”

Either the spokesman is being stupid, or assumes his/her readers are stupid, in making such a statement, since the ruling is completely the opposite of what he claims. The fact is, the big publishers do not like public libraries to be lending BOOKS – not just e-books, but books generally. And this in spite of a history of public libraries that demonstrates that improving access to books for all has built the publishing industry – without public libraries acting as advertising sites for their books there would probably be many fewer publishers around. Indeed, small publishers are very well aware of the value of public libraries: in our interviews in Sweden we have heard them say so.

The Federation of European publishers makes the same claim:

“Lending” an e-book is very different from lending a printed book since digital “lending” in fact means copying. One digital copy can for example potentially be “borrowed” by an indefinite number of users, whereas a physical copy can only be borrowed and read by one person at a time, and is subject to a degree of deterioration.

I wonder why these two agencies are so determined to misrepresent the findings of the Court? It is clearly deliberate, and hence, dishonest misrepresentation, rather than simply an error, so what do they imagine they gain by it? I can only assume that in perpetrating such nonsense, they hope that Ministers and law-makers will believe them and act to prevent e-lending of any description. The Tory government in Britain is all too likely to fall for such nonsense since it would support their desire to get rid of public services of all kinds, a desire that has already led to the loss of 1,000 jobs in British public libraries and the loss of more than 500 branch libraries.

As far as Sweden is concerned, the ruling seems unlikely to make much difference, since public library lending is paid for on a per loan basis, so the publishers are paid for every use of an e-book, regardless of how many people are reading it at the same time. It seems unlikely that Elib will put in place a process to limit use in the way suggested by the ruling, and as Elib is still partly owned by the four major publishers in Sweden, we can assume that they too are happy with the present method.

The Velvet Café, Zagreb

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I’ve been to Zagreb but, unfortunately, only to spend about an hour in its bus station! I never got to the Velvet Café, which hit the global news recently as a result of becoming the first café in the world to function as a Free Reading Zone (or FREZ). bus-stationYou may have seen mention of it on our Flipboard magazine available online or though the iPad app. This means that patrons are able to access a 100,000 volume digital library, with works in several languages, including Croatian.

A recent post by Mirela Roncevic on ‘No Shelf Required” goes some way to explaining how this is possible, but without revealing the crucial information about how the publishers involved get paid. There’s a hint in, ‘Total Boox asked publishers to take responsibility for their ‘product’—to trust the product itself—because they’d be paid only if people ‘consumed’ it’. And there is mention of sponsorship, so it looks as though it is the Velvet Café that is paying – but this isn’t at all clear.

FREZ is an operation involving the Israeli firm, Total Boox, which works with libraries (mainly in the USA) – and its FAQ explains things more clearly. velvetEssentially, the library pays – but it pays only for what is read, so that if a reader skims through a book and does really ‘read’ it, the library will not be charged; if the reader reads 20% and gets bored, the library will be charged 20% of the total sum. This suggests that the Velvet Café is paying in the same way – and perhaps the price of an espresso will be going up to pay for it!

Roncevic (born in Croatia, by the way) had the idea of pushing out this concept from libraries to other venues, like cafés, so that readers would have the ability to pick up a book anywhere, and non-readers might be sufficiently curious to pick up on the idea. That was partly the consequence of negotiating with the Big 5 publishers in the USA and Roncevic comments: “FREZ does not need or want to be caught in the middle of dysfunctional relationship between ‘Big 5’ publishers and libraries, both of whom have equally contributed to the mess they found themselves in with ebooks”.

The message for libraries, is clear, I think: the world is passing you by – the technology offers capabilities and potentials you can’t compete with, and if it is easier for me to find something to read in a neighbourhood cafe, than it is to deal with the library, that’s where I’ll be. Total Boox does not yet offer access to everything, but publishers are increasingly interested in subscription services and models like FREZ and more and more will be signing up. Lending books – both print and digital – is only part of a public library’s functions, but perhaps it won’t be too long before that role is assumed by others and libraries are left to the more ‘serious’ functions which may actually be more beneficial to society.

Gothenburg Book Fair

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Posted for Birgitta Wallin

Gothenburg Book Fair took place on 22-25 September 2016 and I did two presentations on the first day. The first at Axiell’s stage and the second together with Professor Lars Höglund at The Swedish School of Library and Information Science stand.

At Axiell’s stage I presented the results of a survey with Swedish public libraries about e-books. Axiell is a company that provides libraries with technical solutions like BOOK-IT and is the main owner of Elib, the largest e-book aggregator in Sweden. picture-1At their stage, they had several presentations about e-media. There was a fairly large audience considering the competition of all other presentation and seminars going on at the same time. Interested librarians but also representative from publishers and Elib listened to my presentation.

The survey was sent to the 290 main public libraries in all municipalities in Sweden in May 2016 and 181 of them answered. This makes up a response rate of 63 per cent. All of the respondents mainly use Elib for provision of e-books at their libraries and some also use free internet services and other e-book aggregators like Overdrive.

The survey also shows that the majority of the public libraries set aside between 0 and 10 per cent of their total budget for e-books. Twenty-three of the respondents use between 11 and 30 per cent of their total budget for e-books. Even though some say that the entire budget is not always used, the libraries still need to set aside a sum to try to ensure that there is enough money to provide e-books for the library users for the entire year. Seventy-nine per cent of the respondents say that the budget is sufficient to meet the demand from the library users and 21 per cent say it is not sufficient. Budgetary restraints have led to some public libraries choosing not to provide e-books at all.

The public libraries have limitations in place in order not to exceed their budget. The most common limitation is two e-books a week for each library user, but also each e-book loan is limited to a maximum cost of 20-30 SEK. New and popular fiction can cost up to 200 SEK per loan and thus they will not be available at most libraries.

E-book lending is quite unevenly spread throughout Sweden. Two respondents have less than 0.1 per cent e-book lending, 49 respondents have between 0.1-1 per cent, 41 have between 1-2 per cent, 20 have between 2-3 per cent and 18 of the respondents have between 3-6 per cent. Looking at the number of e-book downloads during 2015 they vary between 25 at one public library up to 294,000 at another.

After the presentation several of the audience approached me with questions and expressed and interest to know more about my research and the e-book research project.

picture-2An hour later it was time for the second presentation which took place in the stand of the Swedish School of Library and Information Science. I did a short recap of the earlier presentation and answered some questions from the moderator Maria Ringbo. Professor Lars Höglund added some more research data from the e-book project, for instance on reading and library use.

We finished by promising to present a book from the e-book project at the Göteborg Book Fair in 2017.

Birgitta Wallin