November 9, 2008

Research Paper titled “Reading books in the Digital Age…”

Original Post from September 17th 2007.

"Reading Books in the Digital Age subsequent to Amazon, Google and the long tail" - by Terje Hillesund.

The author is a Professor at the University of Stavanger, Norway and researches in printed media and their transformation. He led a Norwegian Arts Council research team on the impact of eBooks on the Norwegian book (and paper?) industry.

Overall I think this paper is worth the time to read it and it provides some interesting new perspective on the discussion, although it spends an inordinate amount of time criticizing the book "Books in the digital Age (2005)" by J.B. Thompson.

I like the "inside-out" perspective it offers of analyzing book publishing and technology from the book publishing industry's perspective, how technology is a means to serve the needs of "text" (not book) publishing, transmission and sharing and the publishing industry and in fact that has driven technology development - and not the view that technology is a main driver or "force to be reckoned with" in itself.

The conclusions are somewhat up-beat about the prospects for digital (print on demand) printing of books closer to the reader as that is putting technology to use to make the publishing, printing and distribution of books more efficient - but it is somewhat pessimistic about the prospects for eBooks as that changes the reading medium and experience too much and clashes with social, economic and cultural factors that digital printing does not clash with (it's still a book!).

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