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


, , , , , , , ,

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



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

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

Wilson, T.D. (2016). Theoretical approaches to e-book research. Libellarium, 9(1). Retrieved from

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

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:

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.


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


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

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

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

Maceviciute, E., Wallin, B. & Nilsson, S.K. (2015). Book selling and e-books in Sweden. Libellarium, 8(1), 15-29. Retrieved from

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

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

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

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.


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


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

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

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

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

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.


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

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)


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

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

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.


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

The EU ruling on public library lending of e-books



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


, , , , ,

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


, , , ,

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

Some support for our previous entry…



…comes from a blog entry at PR NewsWire, which seems rather an usual source for this kind of topic. In it one Bob Bly (said to be millionaire direct response copywriter, lecturer, and author of over 85 books) is quoted as saying, “Most [publishers] are teetering on the brink. Submissions are only welcome, if they relate to a TV star, rock star, movie star, politician or someone on death row‘. The answer, says Bly, is self-publication – and the well-known success stories of the genre are cited as evidence. Of course, not every self-published author makes millions, or even one million, but at least an author can get a book out in front of the audience, without facing the depressing phenomenon of fifteen rejection slips!

Irrationality rules!


, , , ,

From the outset – or at least since the invention of the Kindle and the iPad – the e-book has been disrupting the lives of librarians and publishers. Why? From our research into the role of the e-book in Sweden we find a lack of a rational response to this new medium on both sides.

Everywhere, the e-book accounts for only a small proportion of total loans from public libraries – in Sweden it is about 2% – and yet the loan charges in Sweden result in budgetary problems for libraries. Any rational person would ask, What is the cost/benefit relationship for the expenditure? But librarians are driven by an ideology that says that, if a medium exists, it must be made available – and this ideology is now enshrined the Swedish library law. Neither law, nor government, however, say anything about where the money comes from to pay for the service.

For public libraries in Sweden, the question needs to be asked: are the benefits to society (i.e., those persons in the community who account for that 2% of loans) worth the budgetary costs and uncertainty. We doubt if any commercial organization would get into business on this basis.

The publishers are disrupted in a different way: their raison d’être is the publication of printed books. They know their market for such products and their entire business is founded on the printed book. A printed book is priced to recover the costs of production, distribution and author’s royalties. Consequently, the e-book is, for the most part, a by-product of the printed version – interactive, enhanced books have so far failed to make much of an impression on the market.

As a by-product, the cost of producing an e-version of the latest novel is negligible, by comparison with the costs already incurred in the production of the printed version. However, to sell the e-book at a price that would recover its specific costs of production would, they fear, cut into the sales of the printed version, from which their profits are derived. We have seen what happens when publishers raise the price of e-books on Amazon: their sales fall and the commentators seize on this as evidence that the e-book is in decline, when it is the publishers’ income from the product that is in decline.

We come to the conclusion that the publishers of printed books are not really interested in e-books: they have made little or no attempt to create a market for the product and, instead, have done everything to inhibit the growth of the market. Their fear is that self-publication could seriously eat into their profits and getting into the e-book market is little more than a defensive posture. Rationally, publishers should take a look at the market and the ratio of print sales to e-sales, and conclude that they have no role to play – unless they want to stimulate demand for e-books to the point at which they can benefit equally from print sales and e-sales. Like libraries, they need to consider whether the production of e-books is in their economic interest. Perhaps they are already doing so, as one commentator notes;

“The latest AAP report seems to show that major publishers are also working to kill off the eBook [as they have worked to kill off the digital editions of magazines]. This will be harder to accomplish because while the big name publishers control an impressive share of the print book market, their hold on the digital book market is less firm thanks to Amazon and self-publishing”. (Hebbard, 2016).

The situation is not helped by legal matters, which seem to be entirely confusing as the legal e-book status is quite undefined and oscilates between a computer file, a service, and a book as such. This concerns first of all the VAT issue that not only negatively affects practically all the actors in the field, but also helps the smartest to derive benefits by wriggling among different VAT rates in different countries. There are other possibilities of manipulation related to the same vagueness in calculating the authors’ royalties or other taxes.

The European Court of Justice is currently sitting over a case that deals with the question of “should lending of e-books be governed by the same rules as the lending of ‘classic’ printed books?” (Lovells, 2016). It is not a joke, as it is connected with the library lending a new copy of a book by creating a copy of the file on the reading device of a user, though the problem is far from new and has been encountered by digital journals and articles, and which clearly differs from lending the physical copy of a book to a user. The crazy thing is that a positive decision for libraries might lead to lending an e-book to one person at a time without the possibility of lending it to anyone else until it is returned by the previous reader, just as a traditional printed book.

Thus, having in our hands a dream product to promote reading and distribute information for all, we are going to kill it at root by treating it as an old product with all the limitations, instead of looking for innovative legal and business models that could satisfy all the actors. But it is a difficult job to make our brains work in unusual ways.

The most rational actors are individual authors and users (as long as they do not act as a group or corpus), though each one may see different benefits. They are looking for the solutions that help to reach their goals and satisfy their interests best, either by self-publishing or sticking to big publishers, reading for free and/or crowdsourcing an interesting book project or buying expensive hardbacks and enjoying the smell of new print.

Elena Maceviciute and Tom Wilson


Hebbard, D.B. (2016, August 1). Publishers (and vendors) killed off the digital edition, now they are working on eBooks, too. Talking New Media.
Lovells, H. (2016, July 6). Advocate General comments on lending e-books. Global Media and Communication Watch: blog.

BY THE BOOK 3, the third Publishing Studies Symposium


, , , , ,

On 23-24 June, 2016, the International Symposium By the book 2016: Building audiences for the book in the age of media proliferation took place in Villa Final in Florence, Italy. The participants have arrived from 13 countries of Europe and beyond, which is no wonder if you look at the list of organizers and committee members on the Symposium webpage.

The Symposium was opened by the main organizers and initiators Benoit Berthou, the Vice-president for business relations of the Paris 13 University, Sorbonne Paris Cite, Miha Kovac, University Ljubljana, Slovenia and Angus Phillips, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom and rolled on for two days with 13 sessions attended by approximately 50 participants.

Several interesting topics were pursued in the conference. The building of audiences that is highlighted in the sub-title of the Symposium was the central one and many others were connected to it closely and related to marketing, services for the audience and reach out issues by different institutions dealing with books and reading. Two streams of papers can be identified within this area: the larger group, related to consumer books and a smaller number of papers related to academic and educational publishing. Some papers also focussed on the more general topics in publishing studies.


Reading audiences

The paper by Paul Docherty (Stirling University) Pubs, publishers and public libraries looked directly into the community, namely Glasgow city, activities directed towards building reading and writing city through Glasgow Book Festival and the gaps left by it. The Festival run by the City Libraries for 15 years is highly popular and well regarded, but mainly attracts female, middle class, middle age participants. The project presented in the paper was concerned with the discovery of other readers and writers in one of the parts of the city where 70% of people do not own a smartphone or a computer. The author found people engaged in writing and creation of various genres and active literary engagement in the community, however, its members did not regard the Glasgow Book Festival as something that they can attend. They want to be recognised as participants and co-creators of literature and they believe that people do not respect what they have to offer.

The paper by Claudio Franco (University of Bedfordshire), Audiences of the future, also focused on the processes that are changing the habits of reading of the young generation. At present young people experience problems related to the overload and fragmentation of reading materials across a range of media and devices. This becomes a challenge to traditional media, but can be turned into an opportunity, a niche for cooperation for the audience and the traditional publishers. For the first the cross media and multiplicity is the norm, thus the latter can stimulate reading by nurturing literary brands and using them as markers for choice.

Laura Dietz (Anglia Ruskin University) in her paper, Speaking the language of Amazon, drew attention to the specificity of getting novels on the internet and reading on screen. She pointed out that many users of the Amazon are ashamed to use it and do not trust it, but still regard it as an easiest access to reading texts. They define electronic novels in relation or in opposition to printed books expecting traditional features. Readers define the quality of a novel as a result of professionalism and through the respect to convention: editing, formatting, cover, etc. Self-publishing authors sense this position of their readers and present elaborated stories explaining why they have turned to self-publishing. Novel selection on the Amazon page seems like fishing – looking at one book and let it go, getting hold of another and so on. People apply mental models from previous information systems and do not use Amazon system any more effectively than any other.

Mediators of books

A number of papers were devoted to specific mediators, who have impact on the readers and their ways of building book audiences.

Kim Maya Sutton with her co-author Ina Paulfeuerborn (Jade Hochschule Wilhelmshaven) looked into The influence of literary blogs. She treated book bloggers as gatekeepers for the books and avid readers themselves. A survey of blog users has shown that there is no big age difference among them, that they put blogs into the second place for book recommendations after their friends and that they indirectly influence their buying decisions. The authors admitted that due to the way the survey was conducted they actually could get data only from the blog users but not from others who are not using blogs.

Melanie Ramdarshan Bold and Corrina Norick-Ruhl (University College London) in their paper, Audience building and the three percent problem, explored the influence of literary prizes on the book consumption. They regarded the Booker prize as a consumers’ guide. Sales for Booker and IFFP books increase as a rule by three percent after they get into long list, are shortlisted and win.

Ivona Despot, Nives Tomašević and Ivana Ljevak (Ljevak Publishing) in the presentation Between pages and games, explored the interaction between written texts and other formats within the realm of entertainment where even searching for book belongs to leisure time. Alexis Weedon (University of Bedfordshire) was Exploring the effects of multichannel storytelling not only on the audience, but also on other actors involved in book production and stories themselves, contemplating on what happens when a story is translated into other modalities, how do people select between adaptations and how they evaluate them. Film may spoil the story or improve it. Books belong to virtual reality which is mostly evident in graphic and pop-up books of the past, but present technology widens the forms of storytelling. Asta Urbanavičiūtė’s (Vilnius University) paper on the ithuanian literary magazine ‘Kultūros barai’ – cultural mission in a modern way, can be regarded partly as a matter of mediation, though she mainly focused on the tactics of the magazine in dealing with new trends of overall publishing and especially maintaining the quality that allows the magazine to remain in the public eye and attract its readership.

Sophie Noel (Paris 13 University) used a very different approach to The independent bookshop in perspective. She outlined the place and conditions of independent bookshops in the book market in France and presented an interview study of independent bookshop keepers. Eighteen respondents had high educational level, were middle-aged, more men than women, and opened bookshops by taking out bank loans. They were devoted to their work, working long hours, more concerned with culture, though acquainted with real life. The author divided her respondents into two groups: one group had worked in bookselling their entire lives, the second group had entered this business in later years from a different profession, getting closer to the cultural life without dangers of artistic bohemia, and being their own boss. They valued subjectivity and individuality, were creating specific atmosphere of trust with their community and gift economy with their customers. Their personality was put forward and constructed for visitors, not necessarily nice, but original and captivating. They regarded their independence as a resource distinguishing bookshops from mainstream and especially internet sellers.

Publishers’ activities

Some of the participants were looking into the activities of publishers designed to attract the consumers and shape the reading audience.

Nadia Sartoreti’s (University of Geneva) paper, Making Chinese contemporary popular literature: novels as consumer goods, presented a wide picture of publishing in China and concentrated on three publishers working for the market and their strategies for attracting audience, such as employing bestselling authors, serializing novels, etc. The presentation concentrated on social websites for users produced by publishers and their features: subscription services for a particular audience (e.g., female), introducing games and apps for different devices, providing possibilities for ranking authors, categorizing books and keeping prices low with regard to many readers. Andrius Šuminas (Vilnius University) presented Branding and communication strategies of publishers seeking visibility among audiences. He discussed the role of brands for audiences and companies and introduced a classification for analysing brands supported by publishing examples: sector branding (romances), creating brands for a publisher, a series, an author, a product (a separate book), or a character. There are no clear boundaries between different types of branding, but they all serve for attracting attention and providing a recognizable features for reading audience.

Agathe Nicolas (CELSA Paris Sorbonn University) presented a different strategy of publishers in her presentation From the ‘book to read’ to the ‘book to collect’: Harry Potter and the French editor’s digital platforms. She demonstrated that publishers keep the interest of the audiences by producing new special editions of the same books appreciated by the audiences for their stories, but directing their efforts towards the exclusivity of the edition. This strategy keeps old stories sold to the same readers over and over again. Giulia Trentacosti (Edinburgh Napier University) in English originals vs translations talked about the competition between English language titles and Dutch translations. She saw a big problem that most successful books for young adults are translations and many of their readers will be as fluent in English as in Dutch (if that is not yet the case). Dutch publishers, especially those producing adult literature, have to acknowledge the fact and to design specific strategies to avoid losing readers.

The paper by Pamela Shultz-Nybacka (Södertörn University) has presented the case of an author communicating with her readers in Co-authoring and co-editing the twilight brand. She demonstrated how cultural, authorship and literature branding emerges from the interaction between an author and her readers, from authorship and corporation, from consumers interaction with media and cultural industry. Morgan Gonseth (University of Geneva) explored the identities of Chinese writers in her presentation Author’s changing identities in the new media era (a part of a project exploring popular culture in China). The author interviewed Chinese writers with different characters that are obviously constructed with great care. These writers pay attention to their image and literary poses more that the Western ones. Despite different images that they project for the audience (a traditional Chinese writer, a popular novelis, a cultural entrepreneur, a shy author never expecting success, a woman babe writer etc.) most of them see the tension between commercial success vs intellectual recognition.

There were some other issues of authorship discussed at the Symposium. Alison Baverstock raised the question Are the two key stakeholders in publishing now the author and their editor? She explored the situation in self-publishing and support that authors get from their own community and special services. The role of an editor is not diminishing in the self-publishing world, on the contraty it increases in comparison with a diminished role that is reserved for editors in modern traditional publishing house. Freelance authors have become a distinctive group with a recognized role and taking the opportunities offered by the new situation. The authors who were required to do more to promote their books have learned new skills and feel empowered to look for other opportunities. Both authors and editors face new problems in traditional publishing and new possibilities outside of it. Kinga Kasperek’s (University of Silesia) presentation Writer is dead was far less optimistic about the prospects of Polish self-published authors, most of whom are not successful. Sylvie Bosser (Paris 8 University) has presented an overview on new publishing possibilities in her presentation Self-publishing platforms: competitors or recruiting grounds for specialised publishing houses within the field of genre literature. She has arrived to the conclusion that publishers do not look for new authors but for quick turnover, saleable products.

Academic publishing

The academic publishing strand in the Symposium started with a panel session on one of most important issues of open access models that concern both audiences of academic publishing users – the authors and the readers. There were brief contributions from Pierre Mounier of Open Edition, who described the aims of the organization and its business model. Its focus is on the social sciences and humanities and access to everything on the site is open. However, if you want the pdf, you pay for it. Fulvio Guatelli, of Firenze University Press, which was established in 2000 and has published 800 books and 40 journals. In the case of the journals, 75% of the costs are paid by the owners, 20% from subscriptions and 5% from article processing charges. Fifty per cent of the books and 90% of the journals are open access. Finally, Tullio Basaglia, of CERN discussed the open scholarly publishing of the organization.

This topic was carried to the session on academic publishing where Ana Maria Tammaro, of the University of Parma, presented The fourth paradigm: digital scholarship, innovation and scholars’ attitudes, noting new modes of publication marrying data and software and increased collaboration. She reported on a survey by IFLA (using the results from Italy only) into the attitudes of researchers to open science and open access, noting the increasing influence on search behaviour of sites such as ResearchGate ( and ( The role of Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar in assessing the impact of a researcher’s work was also noted, as was the apparent absence of libraries from the process.

At a different level of the educational process, primary and secondary education, Christoph Bläsi, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, reported on The quality of schoolbooks, digital schoolbooks and other learning materials. The paper considered the quality criteria used for BELMA (the Best European Learning Materials Award) and their disadvantaged and considered other, similar criteria. Evolving satisfactor criteria for determining quality is clearly problematical, but it is rather surprising that none of the sets of criteria discussed had considered the views of the ultimate users – the school-children – on what might be considered a ‘quality’ text.

Academic publishing was also explored by Heikko Hartmann (Hochschule für Technik, Wirtschaft und Kultur Leipzig) through Academic publishing in the humanities. He identified the publishing needs of academics (to publish quickly and be noticed) and users who are the same academics and students and who are not buying academic books anymore as they are too expensive. The publishers are moving towards digital publications and focus on library markets. The bookshops stopped stocking academic titles, but the market for academic publishing in Germany is quite stable and is evaluated at one billion euros, though the humanities titles are decreasing. The growing audience is satisfied by open access and scholars are pressured to publish open access. Publishers also convert to open access and service provision by taking large subsidies, e.g. De Gruyter. So, it seems that the future lies with hybrid publications, digital formats, cost control, investment and acquisition. Luisa Gaggini (Casalini Libri) presented a service of Humanities and social science research works in non-english languages. This service concentrates on Italian and Spanish as well as other roman languages. She emphasised that science, technology and medical publishers are very different from humanities publishers and the application of the same criteria, principles and metrics is dangerous for them. The research community loses variation through only English language publications. Libraries change the acquisitions from just in case to just in time – PDA and ESB. All this penalizes non-English languages. Casalini Libri seeks to remedy this situation by presenting its services.

Mary Ann Kernan (City University London, UK) continued the topic of humanities in academic publishing and presented a paper titled The second Arden Shakespeare series. She tried to answer some questions about building audiences for this specific edition in an age of media proliferation by tracing slow but fundamental shifts in scholarship and education, partnership between a publisher and an author, and the consecration of scholarly works by publishers linking this to the dissemination of research results.

A different take on academic issues was introduced by Arūnas Gudinavičius, Elena Macevičiūtė and Andrius Šuminas (Vilnius University) who looked into E-books in academic libraries: finding the role in the digital environment. It turned out that though the presence of e-books is increasing in Lithuanian academic libraries many of them are not quite sure how to work with them. The proportion of Lithuanian e-books in their collections is small and does not meet the needs of the users.

Publishing studies

The final topic of the Symposium focused on publishing studies from most pragmatic issues to more theoretical considerations.

David Emblidge (Emerson College) presented a proposal of A publishing studies online database. He presented a list of publishing studies programmes and course materials in English as well as a structure of the proposed database, including a wide variety of scholarly and educational materials and tools accessible on several levels. Rose Leighton and Miriam Rasch (Hogeschool van Amsterdam) talked about Skills for publishing and practice related methods for their development. The authors also introduced the training work of a non-curriculum based unit Publishing lab, which allows the students to implement applied projects to companies. The work with these projects helps to build their skills for publishing.

Elena Maceviciute and Tom Wilson (University of Borås) presented a paper on Divided positions and common expectations of Swedish publishers with regard to the development of e-book market. The paper was focused on the perceptions of publishers of their own roles in relation to digital books, which are not yet gaining any stronger postion, but publishers are already preparing for major changes. Anna Klamet (Edinburgh Napier University) presented a similar project on E-publishing in the small nations of the European Union. Though it was not quite clear what was meant by the small nations – national states with a limited number of local language speakers or minorities embedded in the environment of national states the author has outlined benefits that e-books are offering to small language publishers and, especially, to the survival of small publishing companies.

Franjo Pehar, Krešimir Zauder, Nikolina Peša Pavlović presented a paper Towards an ontology-based approach for publishing studies analysis. The previous work done by the authors of building a corpus of selected publications and extracts, bibliometric analysis looking for patterns in publishing related documents, and other work can serve as a basis for domain analysis of publishing studies. The authors demonstrated databases that could be used for this analysis both in quantitative and qualitative ways.

Theoretical input into the work of the conference was made by Ann Steiner and Sara Kärrholm (Lund University) who explored A paratextual turn? The authors outlined the conceptual basis of the paratextual environment surrounding a book and its history. The paratext gains new importance when the proliferation of media demands better discoverability of books. Paratextual elements acquire new uses and new forms. It also raises new methodological questions for book research. Zoran Velagić has developed the topic raised by Ann Steiner in his presentation Paratext and e-books. Both presenters acknowledged Gerard Genette’s contribution and conceptualisation of the paratext. Both have noted that para-content is introduced into the e-book publishing context with similar connotations. Zoran Velagić has emphasized that paratext enables the system that facilitates reading and serves the reader. As the new means for creating paratext are introduced by new demands and possibilities there is a need for new research and conceptual apparatus.

Establishing the European Publishing Studies Association

It is also necessary to stress that this particular Symposium gained importance of a different kind. On June 23, 2016, the participants of the Symposium have established the European Publishing Studies Association, EuroPub. There were 40 scholars present at the meeting that voted for the establishment of the Association. The participants were not only from Europe, but also from Australia and the United States. Prof. Miha Kovać was elected a President of the Association and Prof. Benoît Berthou became an Executive President. The purpose of the Association is to “Contribute to the development of Publishing studies by promoting an international academic and professional network” (EuroPub. Common rules for the Association). The Association is organizing the next conference By the Book in June of 2017 in Florence. At the moment the activity is focused on the creation of the website for the Association.

Elena Maceviciute, with some help from Ivona Despot and Tom Wilson.

There were also serious debates on what to eat…

Danish Book and Literature Panel’s seminar on e-books and libraries, Copenhagen, May 3, 2016


, , , ,

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.


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.