Books, Bytes and Business: The Promise of Digital Publishing

David Mason (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 4 October 2011



Mason, D. (2011), "Books, Bytes and Business: The Promise of Digital Publishing", The Electronic Library, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 729-729.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

All knowledge based industries are undergoing the same patterns of change: conglomeration, outsourcing, mergers, shifting markets and changes in distribution networks; and the emergence of new players, new products and competition from unexpected sources.

This book is about the future of publishing in the Internet Age. It is a wide‐ranging examination of knowledge based industries in general and of book publishers in particular. It examines how book publishers are likely to be affected by digital technologies and how they can respond and thrive. Book publishing, one of the oldest industries in the world, itself based on a technological revolution, finds itself in the front line of the next wave of technological change.

The book is the result of a three‐year study of the effects of digitisation sponsored by the Australian government. The initial study was completed in December 2008: this book incorporates that and brings the study right up to date.

The book is in three sections – Books, Bytes and Business. The Books section looks at the book business on a global scale – how it is organised, who is involved and the key trends affecting it. There is an extensive and detailed analysis of the structure of the international publishing industry, the main drivers of innovation, and the rise of niche publishers and new competitors. The Bytes section is an up to date examination of the digital technologies affecting book publishing both internally and externally. There are overviews of the semantic web, eBook readers, social networking and mobile computing, and of the actual and potential applications of these in book publishing. The Business section looks at how digital technologies are reshaping all industries and how the publishing industry business models are evolving in response. It considers pay‐walls, logistics, marketing and supply chain issues. It suggests a set of generic business models that can be used to survive and prosper through the uncertainties of our digital future.

This book is based on extensive high quality research and the content reflects the care that has gone into the information collection and analysis. The detailed analysis of knowledge‐based organizations is unusual in that it is put into the context of businesses generally and then applied to the book publishing industry. There are several excellent case studies of individual organizations and how they have reacted or not to the new digital environment. Overall this book is an outstanding contribution to the literature and breaks new ground in the analysis of the international publishing industry in a time of rapid and irreversible change.

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