Research methods in the publishing studies – focus on readers

Reading on digital devices is increasingly common. For many reading settings, possible differences between reading on paper and reading on digital devices do not matter from an efficiency or effectiveness point of view: if people prefer reading digitally, they do and the book industry has to adjust to changing patterns of consumption. This is different in settings where the quality of outcomes in social contexts is connected to e.g. the depth of text comprehension. This applies to education as well as to e.g. legal contexts - and in both areas the transition to digital documents and digital reading is well under way. This paper reviews recent empirical work on the effects of digital reading, tries to come to a provisional bottom line and identifies research desiderata. Lateral findings, e.g. in connection with the use of text annotation tools or with multitasking while working with a text, are also presented.

Towards understanding differences between reading on paper and screen: measuring changes in brain activity (findings from pilot research)

The goal of this pilot research presentation is to understand perceptual and cognitive dimensions of reading better. The existing research concentrates on measuring attention, comprehension, possibly some experiential and emotional aspects of reading texts on screen and paper. The measuring methods and results vary. An experiment on how different text presentation modes affect eye movement metrics revealed that differences in presentation format have a significant effect on fixation duration, number of fixations per minute, and number of regressions (Sharmin, Spakov, Raiha, 2012). Another eye movement analysis of reading from computer displays, eReaders and printed books suggested that subjects reading behaviour is similar to reading from a printed book (Zambarbieri, Carniglia, 2012). The perceived affordances of reading and writing on paper and digitally were compared by analysing written essays and the results showed that readers perceive more positive than negative affordances regarding reading on paper, while reading on screen attracts fewer virtues (Taipale, 2014). Another study compared blink patterns when reading from either a desktop computer monitor or a hard copy printed text under equivalent viewing conditions and found that when compared with an equivalent hard copy control condition, blink rates were not reduced during computer operation (Chu, Rosenfield, Portello, 2014). An experiment on symptoms (ocular discomfort) following sustained computer use showed significantly worse results than those reported after hard copy fixation under similar viewing conditions (Chu et al., 2011). A short overview of previous research showed that eye movement metrics, perceived affordances, blink patterns, questionnaires (asking about the level of ocular discomfort during the task) were used to identify differences between reading on paper and screen. In this research the focus will be on measuring changes in attention, blink detection and meditation parameters while reading in order to answer the question how big the differences in brain activity are while reading on paper and different types of screens (LCD, e-ink, small/large screens and so on). Mindset Brainwave sensing headset will be used. The deliverables planned are the development of the reading indicators on paper vs. screen, recommendations to the industry and education, as well as scientific publications to broaden the level of knowledge in the areas of quantitative measurement and neurological aspects of reading. The pilot research will take place in the Cyprus Interaction Lab on November 2-14, 2015. This research is funded by the Research Council of Lithuania.

Reading in print and digital environment – preliminary results from a PhD thesis

Due to an increased availability of devices that allow reading from the screen, the doctoral thesis investigates if there are differences in the quality of reading in print and digital environments. Measures of reading quality were perceived attention and reading satisfaction, followed by memory and comprehension tests. Furthermore, the dissertation explores the correlations of personality traits and intelligence with reading habits and the quality of reading in print and digital environments. Undergraduate students at the University of Zadar participated in the research (N=172). The impact of digital and print environments on the levels of memory, comprehension, perceived attention and reading satisfaction was examined by using experimental design combined with a correlational study. At the first stage, participants from both groups completed a test of cognitive ability. For the reading task, a popular scholarly text was chosen. The first group of students read the text on paper, and the second group read the same text on LCD computer screens. After reading, all students continued with questionnaires on paper. Questions about perceived reading attention, interest, comfort and satisfaction were followed by a test of reading memory and comprehension, a reading habits survey and a personality inventory. Preliminary results of this research indicate that the print environment is better for reading compared to the digital environment. Students perceived reading from paper as more comfortable. In addition, students who read the text on paper recalled more facts compared to students who read the same text on LCD computer screens. Furthermore, students with lower levels of emotional stability and conscientiousness perceived the lower level of focused attention during reading in the digital environment. In the print environment there were no such correlations, probably because the print environment does not require a higher level of focused attention. As mentioned earlier, it is more comfortable to read from paper. The results contribute to a better understanding of the process of reading in print and digital environments. The findings indicate that the digital environment has a negative impact on reading. 

Social reading – the reader on digital margins

Electronic books enrich the reading experience through a range of possibilities that the digital technology offers, such as commenting or adding content in the margins, marking interesting chapters and sharing content with other readers.  The phenomenon of social reading emerges with the influence of technology in the sphere of reading books and creating interactions of readers with the content and other readers. The great potential of enriching the reading experience is visible in the children's digital platforms for social reading, where the interaction and the creation of new content encourages the development of imagination and creativity. This paper will show how the activities in the digital margins are transformed into a good indicator of the reading behaviour as well as the importance and usefulness of such for publishers to create new publishing products.

Browsing Strategies in the online bookstores

The paper presents the results of a study conducted at Vilnius University that analysed browsing patterns of online bookstores customers. The actual user behaviour was examined using eye tracking equipment in mobile labs set up in the biggest Lithuanian traditional bookstore (Didysis Pegasas). The eye tracking is an objective research method which can reflect cognitive processing through eye movement metrics. This method has recently gained attention in different research areas, however, issues such as online bookstores customer behaviour research using eye tracking techniques and methods have not been discussed in scientific literature so far. 180 respondents were tracked according to two main demographic characteristics: 1. gender (male/female); 2. age (a. up to the age of 30 years; b. from 30 to 50 years; c. over the age of 50 years). The respondents were placed in front of a laptop with eye tracking equipment (Tobii X2–30 Eye Tracker) mounted and eye tracking software (Tobii Studio 3.2) installed. Total research data collection took more than 80 hours. The research results revealed different browsing strategies among online bookstores customers: 1. book cover IS NOT an important strategy vs. book cover IS an important strategy; 2. thorough and chaotic strategy vs. fast and consistent strategy. A few different browsing shapes were identified as well (i.e. S shape, E shape etc.). The presentation is not only going to cover the methodology of the research and current findings, but also offer future research directions.

The language of publishing – the view from Inside Book Publishing

Inside Book Publishing by Giles Clark and Angus Phillips is now in its fifth edition (2014) and aims to provide both a manual for the publishing profession and a textbook for the growing number of students of publishing. Analysis of the text across the three most recent editions shows how the terminology in publishing has changed and developed during a key period in the evolution of the book; also revealed are some of the trends within publishing around marketing, sales channels, key industry players, and methods of production. Clearly seen are the rise of digital publishing and the use of terms such as content and data. Whilst some terms in publishing have remained consistently in use, others have ceased to have currency.

Theories of innovation and their relevance to e-book adoption

The adoption and continued use of innovations by societies, organisations and individuals has been a subject of research since before the 1930s.  A variety of different theories have been developed to account for the different speeds at which innovations are adopted and the factors that affect the adoption process. This paper reviews theories of the adoption of innovations with particular reference to the recent phenomenon of the e-book as a cultural innovation that is having an impact on individuals, organizations and national policy makers. The paper will suggest which theories are most appropriate for the different levels at which the innovation is employed.

What future the longform scholarly monograph?

Monographs continue to play an important role in scholarly communication in the Humanities. However, digitisation is making their future uncertain as it appears to place reading longform texts under threat. Perhaps for the first time in history it is no longer self-evident that longform books will continue to be read. Fiction as entertainment may not yet be an endangered species—although even students of literature complain about the length of novels they have to study. In the meantime, the case of the scholarly monograph is already becoming precarious. Attention has been drawn to the precarious economics of monograph publishing, largely resulting from the serials crisis, and on the attendant difficulty scholars experience in getting their monograph published. Discussions of the monograph’s role in scholarly communication tend to take an author-centred perspective. This author-centred perspective is understandable, since it is often regarded as one of the defining characteristics of the academic publishing field that author and reader are one and the same scholar–researcher, and the author is regarded as the instigator of the act of communication. As a result, however, any changes (reduction) in use tend to go unnoticed. I would like to make a plea for more attention to the scholar–researcher as consumer: to the actual use and reading of scholarly monographs as an intellectual rather than economic pursuit. Publishers have never been overly concerned about whether their products were actually read. Sales were—and could be—assumed to be a sufficient indicator of interest, and thus a proxy for scholarly communication. This is no longer a sustainable attitude. Especially as OA becomes more prominent, sales as a proxy_—_however flawed—for reading will fall away. OA is not full-fledged vanity publishing, in the sense that peer review still takes place, preventing authors from publishing irrelevant or mediocre texts. However, it is comparable to vanity publishing in the sense that in OA the relation of the act of publishing to the assumed and necessary existence of a market of buyers-as-potential-readers—naturally assumed to be existent and relevant in the case of books—is tenuous to say the least. Once the author has paid the publication fee, the fate of the text in terms of downloads or reading becomes irrelevant to the publisher.

Lithuania’s cultural periodicals: go digital or get printed?

The aim of this report is to analyse the possibilities (and intentions) for Lithuania’s cultural periodicals to be published only in the digital version. An assumption is made that network society, affected by fast consumption trends, is more likely to choose digital magazines and newspapers, therefore cultural publications are also challenged to reconsider their publishing strategies. There are several very important reasons (small circulation, possibility to survive only with the help of support funds are included) why cultural periodicals should think about the possibility to abandon traditional print editions, leaving only the digital version. Some publishers of Lithuania‘s cultural periodical publications were interviewed in order to find out their attitude towards the trends of typological changes. In many ways editors interviewed tend to stick to old publishing strategies, it seems that they hold firm to the printed versions: they give preference to be poor, but publish on paper. On the other hand, it is easy to understand their position. According to the editors, one of the main reasons to opt for paper is the longevity of texts printed. Cultural periodicals are not a one-day product, they have enduring value. However, the editors understand the importance of having the digital version or active communication in social networks. Therefore, they oppose the idea of totally abandoning the printed version: it seems most acceptable to use both traditional and printed formats. Is this the right decision? The readers of the Lithuania’s cultural periodical publications are the only ones who know the answer.

The role of the library space – a socio-historical view

The paper discusses the role of library space and the contemporary changes in library practices in the light of wider social phenomena, and argues that what has been recently recognized as the ‘third space’ had been an important characteristic of 18th century circulating libraries, which played a key role in the establishment and socialization of reading. Using sociological concepts in order to rethink the changes in library trends, the author regards libraries as complex cultural forms and puts a stress on users’ practices, which are discussed in relation to the changing nature of working habits and the invasion of the new technology. The research is based on the studies of 18th and 19th century circulating libraries and the related archival documentation on the one hand, and on the observation of the current library uses, and the (discourse) analysis of the internal library material on the other, while referring throughout to secondary sociological literature. As such, this contribution offers socio-historical insight in some of the topical issues of contemporary librarianship that might help better understand its ever-increasing challenges.

The page between imitation and innovation

This paper discusses changes in functions and perceptions of the basic book unit – the page. As common in everyday life as the book itself, the page is easily imaginable, it is forming our cognitive space, getting metaphorical meanings, and serving as organisational principle in architecture of printed books. The transition to digital has certainly started with imitations of the printed page, e.g. with comfortable multiplications of PDFs, with page numbering in word processing software, or with WYSIWYG editors whose advantage was again the possibility of seeing the complete page on the screen. However, with the progress of screen variations, the accent on personalization of text appearance and diverse systems of electronic text deliveries, the page, an intrinsically static organisational unit, is challenged with alternative models of text arrangement. The paper reviews the scope of changes with special emphasis on producers and users of the page, and on the role that the page may perform both in the organisation of the content and the organisation of reading.

Researching international (book) publishing markets: Status quo, methodologies, challenges, perspectives

Book publishing, to which the cultural industry has been closely linked, and which is largely defined by linguistic and territorial borders, has become a global business. Research into the international dimensions of that industry, however, is significantly challenged by the lack of standard definitions for even the most basic identifiers, by little coordination between local research efforts, and as a result by paramount inconsistency of available data. These shortcomings have a serious impact on both the business and the culture of publishing, as it hinders a solid, data based understanding of international developments in times of deep structural change in the sector. The presentation will provide an overview of current relevant research efforts into international publishing, discuss methodological key issues such as desirable standard approaches and definitions which result in data inconsistencies, as well as point to possible perspectives for more coordinated future research efforts.

E-books: the publishers’ dilemma

Ambiguous data is one of the main problems of contemporary book and publishing research. Media reports on book production are usually based on the number of titles published annually, their backbone being the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). However, ever since its creation in the late 1960s, the ISBN has been assigned to each edition or variation of a book. This means that a book published in paperback and hardcover formats will have two ISBNs, and a book published in hardcover and paperback formats, such as a club edition, and as an e-book in e-pub, mobi and PDF formats will have six ISBNs. Therefore, the number of ISBNs issued should not be mistaken with the number of books actually written; the increase in the number of the latter is smaller than the increase in the number of the former. Yet, as people do not read the same book six times in six different formats, it is reasonable to assume that each copy of the same book in different formats is bought or loaned by a different user. Consequently, the growing number of issued ISBNs could be seen as a result both of the growing diversification of book production and as one of the indicators of the growing book consumption. Yet, the scope of book consumption could not be properly understood without the data both on time spent reading in a given society and on overall numbers of books consumed i.e. on the number of books printed, sold or loaned in a given society or globally. In short, for a proper overview of book consumption, besides data on the number of published titles, data on reading habits and on the number of copies printed, sold and publicly loaned in all formats that exist in book publishing is needed. The paper will show that, surprisingly, most of the publicly available data on book consumption as measured by the number of copies sold and loaned either covers a single country in a given year or is based on statistical assumptions, circumstantial evidence and educated guesses. Similarly as data on reading habits that is usually gathered by surveys based on different methodologies and are as such not comparable, data on book consumption are predominantly available only in a variety of European languages. The paper will look at different sources of all these data, discuss their limitations and propose the creation of a new tool for book research that would bring together most of the publicly available data on book reading and book consumption.

Examining research literature on e-books: quantitative and qualitative approach

There are several approaches to examination of the development of any research topic. The closest to the librarian’s heart is the bibliographic approach – registering and classifying the body of literature in several possible ways using a variety of methods. We have performed these bibliographic procedures looking for research literature in several European languages in the main bibliographic databases, but also beyond. Then we have applied some bibliometric and visualisation tools to the analysis of the research articles and materials from bibliographic databases of social sciences (mainly containing English language literature). The emerging patterns show the most prolific authors, dominant topics, and leading publications for the topic of e-books. In addition, we have performed a qualitative text analysis of the articles published over the last five years looking for the interesting results, especially, if they throw light on the long-term trends of the e-book development in book publishing and distribution areas, for the applied methods and theoretical approaches. The purely technological literature is excluded from the analysis in the first and in the second part, so exciting predictions regarding technological development remain outside the limits of this presentation.

Attitudes of Swedish authors toward the e-book phenomenon

The emergence of e-books has affected the authors´ work as well as their position towards other actors on the book market, like publishers and readers. As Sweden is a small language country, Swedish authors mainly find their audience within the national community with distribution by Swedish publishers. What problems and affordances do Swedish authors associate with the rise of an e-book and its production? This question has been posed to some 25 authors representing different genres, cultural capital, sales numbers and experiences, attitudes and opinions in personal interviews and telephone interviews. The results show that the attitude towards e-books is positive, but it is believed that they do not suit every author. The Swedish e-book publishing is even more selective than the paper book publishing. Small and highly respected companies with high cultural capital do not offer a contract including digitization to their authors, as Swedish e-books are expensive for both the publisher and the buyers.

Trends and context of publishers and libraries catalogues: a major issue for publishing studies

The catalogue raises directly the question of the evolution of the book industry in the era of digital technology. Inventory of the editorial products proposed to the readers, the catalogue allows documents to be borrowed or bought. It concerns all the book professions indeed: the librarian that manages collections and loans, publishers and booksellers who commercialize books… Therefore, studying the catalogue raises problems immanent in the media which interests us, such as: access (organizing information to allow for a wide commercialization), hospitality (offered to the reader who can express himself/herself inside for example library’s catalogue) and visibility (through various concepts of publisher’s websites).

Conceptualisation of digital platform-based market in publishing based on authors manuscript – The Case of Croatia

Production in publishing is premised on three key elements: an author's manuscript, copyediting of the manuscript (done by a publishing house once a manuscript is selected) and financial means necessary for the production. The fundamental prerequisite for the above is that a publishing house is informed that a manuscript is written, as well as about both the manuscript's and the author's qualities (the author, who- as a brand- conveys their own strengths/weaknesses of their own brand to a future text). As there is no digital platform-based market (abbreviated DP-BM) in publishing (based on the author's manuscript) in the Republic of Croatia, this paper puts forth a conceptualisation of such a model. The starting premise underlying the conceptualisation is that an author's work/ manuscript (be it published or not) never becomes obsolete. In conceptualising the trade in manuscripts in publishing, the authors of this paper make use of the technology of the digital era and suggest the introduction of the DP-BM. In the process thereof, knowledge of the current state of publishers' communication with authors, as well as on their needs and the possibilities of meeting those needs has also been employed. Building the DP-BM in publishing would allow for the direct communication between an author, a publisher and a financier, without the need for intermediaries and lobbyists, and would provide an insight into the publishing potential of the Republic of Croatia, thus allowing future static metrics of the publishing industry. 

Polish book market: a frozen digital transformation

New technologies forced the publishers to enrich their product portfolio with electronic publications and explore new market opportunities. The aim of the study was to determine 1) the current stage of the digital transformation of the Polish book market and 2) the impact of new publications on the previous business model. For this purpose, in-depth interviews with managers of selected publishing houses were conducted. After a few years the shift to the digital was stopped, however, during that time the publishers got a chance to gain new competencies: they recognized readers’ (users’) behaviour and production tools which can be used in-house. The publishers established contacts with technological companies and online distributors, as well. At the same time, new players in digital publishing appeared. They do not simply produce a replica of printed books, but create new products, as can be seen especially in the segment of educational technology.

Josipa Selthofer – Ines Hocenski, University of Osijek

Publishing is not widely recognized in the Croatian academic environment as an activity that can be important in building a university or faculty image. The aim of the paper is to analyse the publishing activities on faculties and departments of the University of Osijek, Croatia and compare the gathered data with one Croatian and one European university. The purpose of the paper is to determine possible need for establishing a University publishing office that will provide those activities for all the scientific and marketing needs of the University. The research questions are: How many books and scientific journals (print or electronic) were published by the University in the last five years? How many promotional materials (print or electronic) were published by the University in the past five years? Who is involved in the organization of the publishing process; editors, proof-readers, graphic designers, and what were the costs of their involvement? Are those people members of the teaching staff or associates from the publishing business? The research methods used are: a questionnaire for publishing offices of each faculty or department of the University or management and administration offices and a questionnaire for the authors or editors of the scientific journals published by the University of Osijek in the past five years. It is expected that the research results will provide information about the organization of the publishing process at the University that will create arguments for the necessity of establishing a publishing office at the University that will cover all the activities involved in print or electronic publishing process. 

Franjo Pehar – Nikolina Peša Pavlović – Krešimir Zauder, University of Zadar

This paper analyses Publishing Studies (PS) research articles published from 2000 to 2015 in three journals pinpointed as core PS journals in previous studies reported by F. Pehar & Z. Velagić (2014) and F. Pehar & J. Selthofer (2015). It also examines the development of PS during 2000s by applying O. Tuomaala, K. Jarvelin and P. Vakkari’s approach aimed at analysing Library and Information Science (LIS) research articles published in core LIS journals. In this paper, the authors report on a) how the research articles are distributed by topic and b) what approaches, research strategies and methods were applied in the PS articles during the time span under review. The article topics were classified using a simplified PS classification system proposed by the authors of this paper. The classes included topics extracted from the sample of articles under review. The methodological aspect of each research article was classified under a category stated in the original classification system.

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