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ID: Paper 18 The digital book in Italy. Current situation. December 2005. The publishing trade online. Francesca Vannucchi.

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Presentation on theme: "ID: Paper 18 The digital book in Italy. Current situation. December 2005. The publishing trade online. Francesca Vannucchi."— Presentation transcript:

1 ID: Paper 18 The digital book in Italy. Current situation. December The publishing trade online. Francesca Vannucchi

2 Introduction This research studies the evolution of the printed book into the electronic book. The printed book and the e-book have two different processes of production, but also two different processes of distribution, preservation and fruition. BookE-book

3 Introduction The purpose of this study is to start a research about the distribution of the e-book through the new technology of the communication and its social perception. In this first step, this research has looked at the production of the e-book on the Internet. It shows some experiments of several publishing houses, that use the power of the Internet system to propagate their production of the e-book. This study works in the context of research of Italian Institutes which deal with cultural statistics, such as ISTAT, EUROSTAT, AIE, Editrice Bibliografica, ANEE/Assinform, CENSIS, Demoskopea, Doxa, Osservatorio permanente europeo sulla lettura [Permanent European Reading Observatory] of Siena University. Although in Italy an observatory of statistical data on e-books do not exist.

4 The book and the e-book The format, type and use of book show various social trends and their way of being represented. The digital book represents the changes happening in society through new media. The distribution of books and e-books and their circulation in Italy and in the European Union represent one of the important elements of a research about European lifestyle and the transmission of ideas. This research started from a hypothesis that the studies about the processes of production, distribution and use of books allow us to reconstruct the changes of an era.

5 The book and the e-book The printed book is still an important instrument of knowledge in society and it is variously fed by the different policies that European countries have adopted. It is an example of technological use to transmit ideas, information and knowledge over long distances. How does the digital book fit in this context? What is its role and its function?

6 E-book Production avails itself of a methodology closely linked to the Information and Communication Technology. Then distribution happens through the world wide web. For the preservation, besides the physical structures, such as libraries, there are digital archives, accessible from our own personal computer. Reading is carried out on-screen. Users withdraw gradually from traditional fruition on paper and they tend to print digital products after the process of downloading. The techniques change.

7 Multimedia publishing trade In the sector of multimedia publishing trade, contents are processed, preserved, transmitted and visualized on electronic support, characterized from the integration of the text, sound, image, animation and video. They are hypertextual products, organized in a non-sequential manner, contrary to traditional books. They are interactive products, whether they are used through the web or on hardware, such as floppy-disks, CD-ROMs or DVDs. The use of electronic hardware is made possible from digitalisation of contents. This process allows the making of offline and online multimedia products.

8 Multimedia publishing trade An important difference is that at the moment publishers of online multimedia products dont make their investment back from this activity. On the contrary the offline profits feed their production economically and instigate the growth of this industry. Moreover the online publishing trade is still characterized by the hypertextuality instead of by the multimediality. The introduction of animation, sound and video depends heavily on the technological advances. There are some differences between the offline and online multimedia publishing trade.

9 Multimedia publishing trade Thus techniques of data compression reduces the size of images, sound, videos and animations, but it doesnt reduce their quality. Although, some standards of compression cause the loss of some data during the course of decompression. For this reason many sounds and videos are published in streaming. That audiovisual files are transmitted in real time via Internet, but they dont need to be saved on the personal computer. A characteristic of online multimedia publishing trade is that it is not static. Documents published on the Internet could be replaced and modified suddenly, leaving open the problem of authenticity. Particularly it depends on the development of broadband, that at the moment doesnt allow us to transmit files that are too big.

10 Multimedia publishing trade Thus it is impossible to understand which document is the original. All versions of a document published on the Internet could be a first copy, also because when a document is modified the previous version could be lost easily. Another characteristic of a text published online is its potential dynamism. It can move within a fixed space, in order to emphasize the meaning of it. An important characteristic of the multimedia products is the interactivity. It breaks the flow of the narration of a hypermedial text and allows for the personalization of the text, according to the requirements of the user. In this case the notion of time is modified, compared to the notion of time in a static text, printed on a piece of paper. And it appears spread around the non-finite space of the web.

11 Multimedia publishing trade The thread of narration follows various directions, induced or deduced, fixed from a subtended architecture, composed of hypertextual links, that give the user the illusion of freedom of action. On the contrary this is always anticipated by the author during the planning of the product (and this is true above all in the case of the offline multimedia products). The contents published on a book are characterized by their sequence. It means that a text has a beginning, a development and an ending, according to a diachronic development. Some artifices, such as the flashback, introduce a break in the sequence of the chronology of the story (varying in length). In this case the narration continues in a past time, compared to the narration in course.

12 Multimedia publishing trade Some game-books for children call to mind the articulated structure of the web pages. A part of the development of the narration is determined by the reader, who can choose the continuation of the story during the reading, through various choices of ways, fixed into the narration in position established previously by the author. The use of digital technology in the publishing trade sector, with techniques such as print-on-demand and products such as the e- book, has changed the process of production and distribution, bringing about a new kind of publishing, that is offline and online multimedia publishing. The content printed on paper is static, fixed and finished. The content published on a web page is dynamic, changeable and in potentially continuous evolution. In which way do the publishing houses conform to the changes brought about by the web?

13 Publishing houses Source: Data processing by I siti delle case editrici italiane, in Wuz, Cultura & Spettacolo, 26th May 2006. In these last ten years the number of publishing houses with a website has grown substantially. Source: Data processing by Il futuro delleditoria in rete. La presenza delle case editrici su Internet: editori vs fornitori?, edited by Giovanni Peresson - Paola Mazzocchi, Ufficio Studi dellAie, April 2000, p. 2, 26th July So for in 2006 there have been 4,456 publishing houses with websites. In 1995 there were 14 publishing houses with a website, in , in

14 Publishing houses Inquiring into the presence of publishing houses on the Internet, it notes that the majority of them use the web above all as an instrument of communication, particularly as an instrument of advertising communication. On this subject, an example is the publishing house Adelphi ( It shows the latest books, the catalogue, the informative services (such as events, interviews, etc.). It publishes the original sounds of works, poems and editorials by authors. It publishes reading passages in original language as well as translated, which are often downloadable. The website becomes a virtual shop-window, hypertextual, sometimes multimedial.

15 Publishing houses They enable the purchase through their website. Other publishing houses use virtual bookshops, accessible through links provided on their web pages. In the majority of these cases they sell them. Sometimes they distribute e-books free. Only a small minority of publishing houses distribute e-books through the Internet. Other publishing houses use their website as a virtual bookshop.

16 Publishing houses On this subject, an example is the publishing house Laterza (, which distributes e-books about the technology of the web, that are free to download ( The philosophy under this service, as their authors said, is that the e-book and the printed book are not competitors: The online text enables direct access to the quoted resources and it can take advantage of images, but also animation or short films. The printed text can be read wherever, carried and underlined. But through the online version whoever wants to value the interest and the good quality of a text, can do so before the purchase. (Marco Calvo, Fabio Ciotti, Gino Roncaglia, Marco Zela, Avviso ai (ciber)lettori, 26th March 2006).

17 Publishing houses The fruition of an electronic text can be difficult, because the mediation of the screen still represents an obstacle for the reader, used to skimming, underlining, touching and carrying the object book. Moreover the printing of the e-book (when it is possible) can be more expensive and of an inferior quality. In spite of this, undoubtedly the benefit of the electronic text is the speed of finding and consultation. In the case of Laterza, after the electronic consultation, the book can be bought through the link to the electronic bookshop, Internet Bookshop Italia (

18 Publishing houses Another interesting example is the site of the publishing house Mondadori. It also has the section about the e-book ( The e- catalogue ( lists the publications and the latest books, subdivided in genre: Classics and Poetry, Italian fiction, Foreign fiction, Essays, Childrens books among others. In the Free sector it is possible to download various kinds of e- books for free. There isnt statistical information about this subject yet. But it is possible to observe the activities of authors who are testing the powers of the web to distribute their own products. In this context, what are the authors doing?

19 Authors An example is the experiment of Marco Calvo, Fabio Ciotti, Gino Roncaglia and Marco Zela, already cited (, who offer their publications in two formats, the e-book and the printed book. These publications can be downloaded into HTML and Microsoft Reader formats. Thus the e-book doesnt take the place of the printed book, but it supports it in the process of transmission of knowledge. It meets different necessities and demands, compared to the printed book, which otherwise couldnt be satisfied. The advantage of their fruition through the web is remarkable. Above all if we consider that some of these publications are discontinued and for this reason not available.

20 Authors Another example of an author who uses the power of the web is Carmen Covito. On her website ( she publishes some already printed stories in a new version, with text and sound. These call to mind the experiments that were carried out in the past through the radio and also the talking books for children on cassette or record. A sector of this website is dedicated to the e-book (, of which she explains the process of production on the basis of her experience. Carmen Covito personally tested the production of two e-books.

21 Authors She published two collections of stories, entitled I racconti di Scrivi Pompei 2003 and Racconti dal Web. For the latter there is an English version, entitled Tales from the web. These e-books can be downloaded in two formats, Microsoft Reader and PDF. The author takes the reader on her journey of discovery of the e- book and shows the reasons why she started this experience. She shows an important difference between the printed book and the e- book, that is self-publishing. Also in this case the e-book is not a competitor of the printed book, but it can support the traditional publishing trade, solving the difficulties of new authors in publishing their pieces of work or, if these are printed, avoiding the cost that the publishing trade demands for their publications.

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