The case of the e-book in a "small language" culture: Media, technology and effects in the digital society
Commonly developed by the University of Gothenburg (Department of Journalism, Media and Communication) and the University of Borås (Swedish School of Library and Information Science). Financed by the Swedish Research Council under the Framework grant Digitized society: past, present and future.
An investigation is conducted into the actual and potential impact of the electronic book (e-book) on the authoring, publishing, distribution and use process in Sweden. The proposed study is timely, given the recent increase in the publication, use and library loans of e-books. The situation in Sweden with regard to the successful introduction of e-books into the national ´book culture´ is complicated by a number of factors. It is a so-called ´small language´ market, but with a technologically literate population, many of whom also read English. One of the consequences of the ´small language´ phenomenon is that the Swedish book industry is prey to the effects of globalization, since English books have an international market. The spread of a Swedish e-book depends on other factors than in the English-speaking world, such as a limited number of buyers of Swedish production, high uncertainty and anxiety of the main actors in book production and distribution, access to free or low price English e-books by Swedish population. The theoretical framework includes a focus on: the emergence of the innovation out of previous prototypes, the existence of a ´supervening social necessity´, and the impact of means for the suppression of ´radical potential´ (Winston). In addition Bourdieu´s field theory is used to analysing changes in power between the actors in the field.
The research methods include personal interviews with authors, publishing executives and booksellers, focus group interviews with librarians and readers and questions in national surveys of the population. All data collection will be performed within the VR´s ethical guidelines.
The project has attracted interest of researchers in other European countries and some of them have joined the Swedish research group by carrying out investigation among their publishers, libraries and users using the instruments developed by the group.