Research Conference led by the universities of Paris, Oxford Brookes, Leipzig, Ljubljana, Milan
May 30-31, 2013, Villa Finaly, Florence, Italy
Going digital: emerging booktrade organizations
The purpose of this conference is not merely to analyse and question the book market and its economy but most of all to try to understand the evolutions led by the transformations the book is undergoing as an object, on a European scale.
The emergence of a new product, and therefore of new manufacturing and producing methods, distribution channels and reading devices invite us to reflect on the pertinence of the book industry as we have known it so far.
1. New books, new products, new creative processes
- New fabrication methods and techniques: the methods used to create digital books invite us to reconsider some traditional concepts such as the page (which is susceptible to change size with readers’ changing expectations and whims), the format (which illustrates marketing choices, like the Kindle for instance) or the template or layout (which can now be defined as the way interactive pages are put together).
- Authorship: digital books, as technical products, question the whole notion of authorship. In the case of very ambitious projects (in children’s books for instance), where many people such as illustrators, graphic designers and writers are involved, the question of collective authorship is raised. This is another opportunity to tackle the tensions that have arisen between publishers and authors about digital rights.
- Added-value of enhanced e-books: in order to better assess the ‘’enhancement’’ brought about by technology (some e-book projects include computer animation, or game play), digital books and enhanced e-books can be analysed from a historical perspective. In that perspective, it might also be interesting to see and analyse how e-books and enhanced e-books have allowed paper books/printed books to optimize their contents (children’s books or practical guides and manuals for instance).
2. Publishing: a new job?
- Internal organization: industry actors sometimes have to make a difficult choice: either they can afford to make and produce their own products, or they have to externalize a production which has become very complex. Going digital invites publishing houses to consider the idea of new partnerships, and to redefine their traditional activities and the way they were organized.
- New business models: how to finance a product which very often struggles to find its place on the market? Do publishers have room for manoeuvre or are they condemned to produce books that are hardly enhanced? In that regard, a reflection on the prices and costs of the digital could shed an interesting light on the new economy of the book.
- The e-book offer: it is also possible to analyse the current offer of e-books by editorial or market segment and to wonder why some genres seem to be more concerned with the advent of digital books than others, while questioning the strategy used by publishers to include digital products into their catalogues. Also, a reflection on the modes of digitalization of a publisher’s collection would be possible and welcome.
3. New modes of distribution
- New actors and new modes of organisation: the rise of a digital environment has allowed the emergence of new companies (Amazon, or Apple). It would be interesting to try to explain their modes of production or business models, and to broaden the perspective by analysing the new faces of traditional activities: online bookstores v. brick-and-mortar bookstores, the rise of e-distributors and the tendency of libraries to unite in networks, allowing them to negotiate the acquisition of digital books and documents, all this and more could thus be examined.
- New prescriptions: what are the new forms and patterns of criticism or book recommendations today? The conference will also be an opportunity to discuss the appearance of new spaces for criticism and communication about books: online communication of libraries and bookstores, the increased visibility of readers via readers’ blogs, forums and websites etc.
- Reading digital: what is it like to read on a tablet or an e-reader? A reflection on the new reading uses and practices is also possible: how do new devices and their features have an impact on the way we read or what we read or where and when?
The above description is far from being exhaustive and other suggestions are most welcome. They will be assessed in the light of our central question (in what ways does the digital revolution invite us to reconsider the book trade and its organization entirely?) but also in the way they do not limit themselves to a national space but try to include the larger horizon of Europe.
The best papers will be selected by a committee in view of a publication in the international review Logos.
The committee will be made up of researchers from different nationalities and universities:
Benoît Berthou (University of Saint-Denis, France)
Alberto Cadioli (University of Milan, Italy)
Sylvie Ducas (University of Paris-Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense, France)
Angus Phillips (University of Oxford Brookes, United Kingdom)
Miha Kovac (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Propositions on one of the subjects mentioned above or on any other topic related are to be submitted by March 21 the latest. They must not exceed 800 words and must be accompanied by a CV summing up the activities of the researcher.
Propositions must be sent to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)