By the Book: the book and the study of its digital transformation

Publishing Studies Conference

Taking place:

Villa Finaly, Florence, Italy

Friday 23 May to Saturday 24 May 2014

This two-day conference brought together scholars from the field of publishing studies to examine key issues around the digital transformation of the book, as well as to discuss the developing field of publishing studies.

Call for Papers

Analysed will be a key set of questions. How is the landscape of the book in Europe changing due to digital transformation? How will terrestrial bookshops survive the growth of ebooks? Are there international forces for change which will affect all markets, and what domestic factors will prevail? What is the connection between the spread of English as the global lingua franca and the growth of digital publishing?

It appears that we are living in a privileged era for our research field in which the book format that was dominant in Western civilization for two thousand years is being replaced or supplemented by a new one. As a result of this change, questions have been triggered that were more or less invisible a few decades ago:  do we read differently on digital devices; do people who read ebooks elicit different meaning from those people who read pbooks? There are also philosophical enquiries - do we know what printed books are? what do printed books do to our minds and hearts? A further debate arises in the context of geography. Will the shift from print to digital - supported by the rise of English as the second-largest language in the world - cause an identity shift in parts of continental Europe as more and more people become bilingual readers for whom English ebooks are viable alternative to books in local languages?

Explored will be the identity of the discipline of publishing studies and its status in universities. Why has the book became of interest for media studies only in the last two decades? What methodologies are being used in contemporary book research? How should we teach book publishing in this time of digital transformation? What is the role of book history in the curriculum of publishing studies? How can we document the spread of ebooks and e-reading in Europe as most national libraries do not yet collect web pages and apps alongside ebooks and printed materials? What European research projects should be developed, and what are the existing collaborations?

Furthermore, the advent of the ebook is changing the way we view the past. Although the printed book as a communication tool marked the birth of the information society and market-driven information production, questions about the form and function of a book as a communication device have become much more relevant. Only recently have we started to investigate how the economic and technological constraints of publishing have shaped how human thought is expressed in book format. The move from print to digital enables us to see a set of peculiarities of printed books to which we were blind for the last five hundred years. In short, the book is one of those things humans have built that they don’t truly understand.

This is the first conference to bring together researchers and teachers of publishing studies from all parts of Europe and aims to be the first in a series of such meetings.  Also welcome are industry practitioners who wish to contribute to the debates.

Proposals are invited for individual paper presentations or themed panels (with two or three contributors). The proposal should be of around 250 words together with a short biography of the participant/s.

Subject to peer review, a selection of the best papers will be published in a special issue of the premier publishing journal Logos.

Papers for submission to the conference should be sent by 15 January 2014 to Miha Kovač at:

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The fee for conference attendance or the presentation of a paper (given it is accepted) is 150 euros. There is a reduced rate of 99 euros for PhD students. There is no spare accommodation at the conference venue, the Villa Finaly, and delegates need to make their own arrangements for travel and accommodation.

Conference committee

  • BenoÈ‹t Berthou, University of Paris 13 (LABSIC)
  • Ernst-Peter Biesalski, HTWK, Leipzig
  • Alberto Cadioli, University of Milan
  • Pascal Durand, University of Liège
  • Miha Kovač, University of Ljubljana
  • Angus Phillips, Oxford Brookes University (Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies)
  • Adriaan van der Weel, University of Leiden 

Associate partners

  • Association for Publishing Education
  • Brill
  • Federation of European Publishers