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Selling and lending e-books: Changes in the Swedish literary field
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6364-4271
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study explores the actors distributing e-books in the Swedish book market. The focus was on public libraries and booksellers, which included aggregators, subscription services, online booksellers and physical bookshops. Field theory (Bourdieu, 1996) was used in order to investigate the positions, dispositions and capitals (social, cultural, economic and symbolic) of the actors in the literary field. Innovation theory (Winston, 1998) was used to identify the suppression of radical potential and supervening social necessity of the e-book on the Swedish book market. Different strategies utilised by the actors in the changing digital market were explored using the concepts of planned and emergent strategies (Mintzberg, 2003). A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was used for the data collection. Surveys were used in order to reach a large portion of the respondents and semi-structured interviews were added to reach additional respondents and get further in-depth responses.

Key findings revealed that the e-book distributors in the Swedish book market maintain their positions by adapting to the changing digital market. There are two main strategies found in regard to e-book use: the first in which the use of e-books is encouraged in order to maintain relevance for customers and library users; the second in which physical bookshops and some public libraries are passive and do not encourage the use of e-books when it comes to their customers and library users. The risk of disintermediation was considered to be low and was really only the concern of one aggregator who was the mediator of e-books between publishers and public libraries and booksellers.

The tensions found mainly concerned the availability of e-book titles and conditions of selling, licensing, lending and use of e-book titles as dictated by the most powerful actors in the field. There were ideological tensions which emerged with e-book lending which were not present with print book lending (at least not from the beginning of the 20th century). Booksellers considered that e-book lending was unfair competition as the principle of one book and one loan was no longer valid given that e-books can be lent out to several library users simultaneously. Public libraries were worried about the better usability and technological advantages offered by commercial e-book providers as they offered more attractive options to their users. The findings illustrate that there were social necessities pushing and radical potential suppressing e-books on the Swedish book market, which were sometimes created by the same actors.

The study contributes to research that explores how actors in small language markets, like the Swedish book market, can deal with the changes brought on by the digital production and distribution of books.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Borås: Högskolan i Borås, 2018.
Series
Skrifter från Valfrid, ISSN 1103-6990
Keywords [en]
E‐books, Swedish book market, e‐book lending, Public libraries, e‐book selling, booksellers, subscription services, aggregators, bookshops, online booksellers
National Category
Information Studies
Research subject
Library and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-15273ISBN: 978-91-983398-2-6 (print)ISBN: 978-91-983398-3-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-15273DiVA, id: diva2:1260931
Public defence
2019-02-22, C203, Allégatan 1, Borås, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Available from: 2019-02-01 Created: 2018-11-05 Last updated: 2019-01-25Bibliographically approved

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Wallin, Birgitta

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
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  • asciidoc
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