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C-2-C Project

Creator-to-Consumer in a Digital Age

Published Research

Series Two

Book 2.1
Print and Electronic Text Convergence
Edited by Bill Cope and Diana Kalantzis

With the progressive digitisation of the book production processes, we see the emergence of a potentially potent mix of new technologies. Not potent because these technologies are capable of driving change alones, but potent for the commercial and cultural drivers which may work in concert with new technologies to transform the world of books and reading. Central to these technological developments is the convergence of the technologies of etext and digital print.

This book examines recent technological changes in book production. Our focus is in part on technological actuality, centred mostly on the digitisation of text and its consequences. Our focus is also on the realm of possibility. Where might these technological shifts lead us? What are the commercial and cultural conditions under which technological possibility might bear fruits?

Within this volume we look specifically at the changing definition of a 'book'. A book is no longer a tangible thing; a book is what a book does. It is information architecture. We examine the various manifestations of electronic book readers and imminent technologies, such as electronic ink, including case study on the use of ebook reading devices by a lending library, and speculate about other uses of such devices. We see the convergence of print and etext - manifestations of the same thing - electronically stored text, with the difference demonstrated only in the shift in mindset necessary to accommodate emergent forms of digital text - as information services within a product-service system, the changing shape of digital design and changes in printing technologies from letterpress to the rise of digital printing.

The material in this volume has been developed as part of a wider collaborative research project entitled 'Future Markets and Future Products in the Book Production Industry: A program of New Knowledge Creation, Supply Chain-wide Awareness and Cultural Change', undertaken by Common Ground Publishing in partnership with RMIT University.

Our research is funded under the Infrastructure and Industry Growth Fund (IIGF) and the Book Production Enhanced Printing Industry Competitiveness Scheme (EPICS) Grant of the Australian Government's Department of Industry, Science and Resources.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

The main focus of this activity was to map the changes occurring in the key areas of digital publishing technology. The key focus was the convergence of e-book and d-book technologies, and the potential for the printing industries in this convergence. To this end, this research involved a survey and analysis of:

  1. International and supply-chain wide mapping of technology developments, including:

    • Developments in offset print production processes.

    • Digital print developments, including printing a single book in one run.

    • Disintermediation as the whole supply chain is digitised; e-commerce, internet file exchange and access protocols.

    • Printed book enhancements: consumer customisation, individual book numbering possibilities.

    • E-ink technology.

    • Developments in e-book readers and tablets.

    • Simultaneous print and internet publication - reconceiving books and print as carriers of content, and the printer as the provider of a variety of related channel options from the same source files.
  2. The key features of each area of technology, such as product types, volumes currently being and likely to be produced and consumed, companies entering the market, and entry level costs for using the technology. The mapping process will be designed to achieve measurable outcomes, and therefore will be limited to gauging those features for which measurement tools exist or can be easily created.
  3. Analysis of the technical advantages of different book technologies for different reading purposes. For instance, useability studies conducted on web site development suggest that users only scan screens for information. Where they do read word for word, this is completed at a reading speed of approximately one third of the speed of print based reading. Portable reading devices are attempting to address the issues of readability, by providing clearer screen and font technologies to allow an easier readability processes for the digital text. Current development in e-ink will extend these processes of providing digital titles that mimic the readability of current paper clarity. Our research question here was focused on technical scenarios linked to the practical human logistics of use.
 

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