[Posted by Tom Wilson for Elena Maceviciute]
A team of Lithuanian researchers led by Dr. Arūnas Gudinavičius has conducted a survey of Lithuanian publishers using a questionnaire similar to that employed in Sweden and Croatia. This will enable us to produce a comparative analysis of publishers‘ opinions from all three countries.
This survey was financed by the Lithuanian Council for Culture. Its main goal was to increase understanding of the situation of e-books production in Lithuania by answering questions on the following topics:
What is the size of e-book production in Lithuania?
What are the factors that affect publishing of e-books in Lithuania at present and in the near future as understood by Lithuanian publishers?
What are the perceptions of Lithuanian publishers about the influence of traditional publishing cycle actors (authors, bookshops, libraries) on e-book publishing?
Almost half of active Lithuanian publishers took part in the survey and 73 questionnaires (out of 143) were returned. Thirty percent of those who responded publish e-books, but only six publishers have published a significant number of titles (from 200 to 500 e-book titles a year).
Publishers do not expect rapid and significant growth of e-book market in Lithuania in the near future. The biggest hindrance to the growth is a small size of the market and the lack of an export market for Lithuanian e-books. The demand of users for a portable and convenient format and the use of new technologies in the educational system are the two biggest drivers in the development of e-book production. On the other hand, the user preference for traditional printed books is seen as one of the barriers to further development.
The analysis of the relationship to the roles and influence of other actors also shows some confusion and controversy in the opinions of the publishers. Self-publishing by authors is not seen as a big threat to publishers in general, but 62 percent of the respondents think that there is a need to develop their own self-publishing channel.
The websites of publishers and other vendors are perceived as the most important distribution channel. Most of the respondents agree that the role of bookshops will diminish with the increase of e-book publishing. On the other hand 62 percent of them think that bookshops will sell both e-books and paper books and half of the respondents agree that Internet sales will not be the only alternative in e-book distribution. The role of academic and public libraries is not seen as important in the development of e-book production, but 20 percent of respondents think that libraries should not provide access to e-books. However, most of the respondents (80 percent) acknowledge that libraries are important disseminators of e-books and the majority (65 percent) supports the idea that e-books should be sold to libraries for the same price as for other users, though limitations on loans should be introduced (56 percent).
The team of researchers is working on the report of the survey that will be published in a digital format and introduced to the publishers and wider public in a seminar on December 16, 2014.
Prof. Elena Maceviciute