by Anna Klamet | 4 November 2022

Summary of the presentations from the second symposium focusing on innovations in publishing on September 15th 2022

Photo credit: © Oswin Tickler

After last year’s successful CIMRH symposium on innovation management in the publishing industry, we hosted another group of researchers to explore further innovations in publishing. As last year, this symposium presented a variety of recent research exploring new approaches to publishing and aspects of innovation management.   

Topics included algorithms and new printing paradigms, digital ecosystems, hybrid publishing, fiction apps, Book Tok, and entrepreneurship. 

The event was introduced by Professor Jonathan Hardy and chaired by Dr. Laura Little, University of the Arts London.  

Oswin Tickler, University of the Arts London, London College of Communication, UK

Visualizing Algorithms in Print

What started as an experiment visualizing algorithms in print, led to the development of software HP Spark in collaboration with HP Indigo. This brings creative coding and generative art into a print environment, revolutionizing variable digital printing. Fusing frontiers is the first exploration of this technology. This talk will focus on the most recent development of this project, including reflection on July’s launch event and workshops, and how this has informed and been incorporated into aspects of Oswin’s teaching practice.  

Anna Klamet, University of the Arts London, London College of Communication, UK

Value Creation and Business Model Innovation in Times of Digital Disruption: How small entrepreneurial publishing houses in Europe are changing the publishing landscape

Globalisation has led to a concentration of the book market in the form of transnational ownership of publishing houses which challenges the publishing industries in smaller nations in Europe. Moreover, national and linguistic borders lose their importance as texts are easily accessible across borders and, as a result, local publishers struggle to compete with those transnational entities. This is particularly prevalent in small nations in Europe due to limited market size and thus reduced competitive power. Hence, governments revert to subsidies to protect and strengthen the national publishing industries. 

This short talk explored the connection between different forms of direct subsidies for publishing houses in Austria and Slovenia and their effect on capabilities to innovate of those publishers receiving funding. It also looked at the distinctive role subsidies play in small nation publishing to keep a national publishing sector alive.

By drawing upon entrepreneurship theory and qualitative research conducted among a wide variety of publishing professionals this presentation argued that a small firm size is not necessarily a hindrance for innovation but rather an entrepreneurial mind-set is crucial while legacy procedures fail to encourage publishing houses to adapt to the changes in the industry. Moreover, different book cultures and political contexts have an impact on the innovative capabilities of publishing houses and their long-term strategies.

Robbe Vandersmissen, University of Ghent, Belgium

On the Emergence of Hybrid Publishing Companies in the Swedish Literary Publishing Field

In recent years, the possibilities for aspiring writers who wish to invest in and decide to publish their work without the involvement of an established and external publishing house have grown tremendously. The aim of this paper is to look into the emerging trend of so-called ‘hybrid publishing companies’ that operate in the gray zone between traditional and self-publishing. The paper examines the status and position of hybrid publishing companies in the Swedish literary publishing field, by discussing the results of a survey among authors, literary critics and publishing professionals, supplemented with additional empirical findings on the companies’ legal and financial status, company turnover and symbolic capital.  

John Rodzvilla, Emerson College, USA 

How Fiction Apps are using Microtransactions to get Young Adults to Read 

Online fiction platforms like Wattpad, Tapas, Choices, and Episode are creating new models of digital story-telling that serve serialized narratives to billions of readers a month through their apps and websites. By using a free-to-read (F2R) model, a way to access narratives based on the free-to-play (F2P) model from mobile gaming, these sites find ways to profit from their online prose narratives through ad-supported serialization and paywalls. This presentation will look at how these platforms are using the F2R model to create and profit from a compelling reading experience that personalizes the text and keeps readers engaged. 

Frania Hall, University of the Arts London, London College of Communication, UK

Evolving Ecosystems in Publishing

Ecosystems abound in publishing and digital environment increases the connectivity of systems to make ecosystems both very effective but also challenging to legacy systems of publishing. This brief talk will reflect on case studies on Amazon, self-publishing and academic research environments examining the challenges they bring for publishers as they try to integrate with these evolving ecosystems. 


PhD Student Track

Cecilia Bennett, Edinburgh Napier University, UK

Voice of a Generation’: Interrogating Poles of Symbolic Capital Within Contemporary Anglophone Fiction

Cecilia’s research focuses on motivations to translate and the impact of global power relations over the acquisition of translation rights in the UK and French Markets. In doing so, they are interested in how new streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix are changing public perceptions of translations in Anglophone settings.

Lore De Greve, University of Ghent, Belgium

Evaluation of Literature by Professional and Layperson Critics: A Digital and Literary Sociological Analysis of Evaluative Talk of Literature through the Prism of Literary Prizes (2007-2017)

Recently, the CEO of a Dutch publishing company proposed that literary quality should be measured and predicted by means of algorithms and big data-based audience research, rather than by experts. His claim drew ire and caused the exodus of many of established authors; at the same time, the statement is indicative of a broader societal trend in which the knowledge of professional ‘pundits’ is rivalled and challenged by technological developments and the reliance on “the wisdom of the crowds”. Scholars have argued that debates on the validity of tastes and evaluation are indicative of “a waning consensus about what has cultural value”.

This project aims to be a systematic study into the phenomenon of “layman/layperson criticism” and proposes to do both qualitative and quantitative research into these perceptions of readers by means of a digitally empowered method of literary sociology. For this, we draw on a broad corpus of critical discourse generated by six literary prizes in three different linguistic communities (German, Dutch and English) in the period 2007-2017, namely the Georg-Büchner-Preis and Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis, the Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren and the Fintro Literatuurprijs as well as the Booker and the Not the Booker Prize. The corpora consist of social media contributions on the one hand, such as tweets, Instagram posts Goodreads reviews, and official jury reports on the other hand, which are annotated and studied using Aspect-Based Sentiment Analysis (ABSA). We aim to answer questions such as: What are the criteria for telling ‘good’ from ‘bad’ literature used by both professional and layperson critics? What role does the attribution of societal engagement play in the judgment of contemporary literature? What are the (dis)similarities between the literary discourse on the various social media platforms or between the three language communities? What are the differences between academic prizes and literary prizes that draw on audience participation?