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Posted for Elena Maceviciute

The Book and Literature Panel (Bog- og Litteraturpanelet) in Denmark was established by the Minister of Culture in April 2014. Its activity is supported and financed by the Ministry of Culture. The panel held its first meeting on 17th, June 2014 and has held a number of meetings since then. The purpose of the panel is to follow the changes in the Danish book market by:

  • Annually reviewing available statistical data of the book market, identifying the gaps and making recommendations for improvements in the statistics.
  • Following the situation of quality literature situation in the light of changes in book market and reading patterns.
  • Promoting the debate on the literary situation in Denmark through seminars and conferences.

The Panel consists of six to eight members who together hold expertise related to book market statistics, international book market development, literature and the sociology of literature, consumer perspectives, and reading. At present the Panel consists of five researchers from Danish universities, one from Lund University in Sweden (Ann Steiner), one doctoral student from Roskilde University, and a publishing consultant and former CEO of the Swedish Norstedt group Kjell Bohlund. The Panel is led by Professor Stig Hjarvard of the University of Copenhagen.

A reference group consisting of the representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Competition and Consumer Board, the Publishers’ Association, the Booksellers’ Association, the Danish Writers’ Association, the Association of Fiction Writers, the Library Association, and the Consumer Council follows the activity of the Panel and participates in it.

In September 2015 the Panel published its first annual report, which can be found here, and which is also available in English. It provides an interesting and multifaceted analysis of the Danish book market.

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On May 3, 2016, the Book and Literature Panel organized a seminar on e-books and libraries at the Faculty of the Humanities, University of Copenhagen. The seminar consisted of two parts: a research part and a debate part.

In the first Stig Hjarvard (University of Copenhagen) presented Danish statistics about the e-book market and e-book lending. Prof. Frank Huysman from the University of Amsterdam presented the model of e-book lending practised by public libraries in Netherlands and a very interesting comparative study of e-lending models of public libraries in European countries. He has reviewed several of them showing that all of them are different and in fact there is no a single mainstream model, which was accepted by several countries. To some extent they seem to reflect library traditions with some very open and generous models of e-book lending and some very restrictive and introducing strict limitations into the e-loans. The next presenter was yours truly who presented an overview of the e-book lending situation in Sweden wandering about some stranger aspects of the emerging situation and the positions of different actors.

The second part involved two series of shorter presentations and debate with the audience. The presentations and the discussion were held in Danish and this is not the language that I understand. Most of the passionate and heated arguments and also seemingly fine jokes causing laughter in the public were lost on me. So, I will restrict myself to the factual report. Tine Vind (Head of the Library Unit at the Agency of Culture and Palaces) presented the guidelines of the cultural policy for Danish libraries. Annette Godt, the head of Allerød library talked about the acquisition decisions in the library related both to physical and e-books. blog2Mikkel Christoffersen from Copenhagen Libraries presented a captivating account about the readers of e-books and the role of the library in attracting new readers by providing access to e-books.

The other group of panellists talked about the role of authors, publishers and booksellers on the bookmarket and their relation to public libraries. The group included two representatives of publishers (Jakob Harden and Lasse Korsemann Horne), two persons from two associtations of authors (Morten Visby and Jan Thielke), and Helle Busck Fensvig from Arnold Busck bookselling company representing Danish Booksellers Association. blog1One could feel the tension between the commercial and public distributors of book treasures caused by the digital book, but one also can expect that more events like this one could lead to more understanding and eventually to the resolution of existing problems.

The meetings and discussions with many interested professionals from the whole Danish book sector as well as with colleagues from the research world were both exciting and rewarding. The idea of research led body helping and advising the government and monitoring the developments of book sector could be picked up by other countries.

The presentations made at the meeting can be found on the Ministry of Culture’s Website.

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