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Macquarie Uni project to explore changes to the book industry

A new three-year research project funded by the Australian Research Council and undertaken by academics at Sydney’s Macquarie University will examine the impact of the changing publishing industry on authors, publishers and readers.

The project, headed by David Throsby from Macquarie’s Department of Economics and being undertaken with academics Jan Zwar, Tom Longden and Paul Crosby, is titled ‘The Australian Book Industry: Authors, Publishers and Readers in a Time of Change’.

Zwar told Books+Publishing that the project, which commenced in February 2014, has so far focussed on authors and ‘their experiences in the changing industry’. In 2015 it will explore ways in which publishers contribute to economic, social and cultural value, and in its third year the project will investigate the practices of contemporary book readers.

‘In mid-2014, our research team ran an invitation-only online discussion forum with over sixty Australian authors located in Australia and overseas who are writing in a broad range of genres,’ said Zwar. ‘This forum was a preliminary stage in the preparation of a major national survey of over one thousand authors that will run every year for three years. We are surveying authors about their experiences of epublishing, self-publishing, and the opportunities offered by new media marketing channels including social media.’

Zwar said the research team has been working closely with the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Australian Poetry, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the Copyright Agency and writers’ centres across Australia. Its analysis will be based on case studies, small-group work and national survey samples.

Zwar said the project’s research will ‘fill contemporary knowledge gaps by developing new models of the structure and operations of the book supply chain’.

Research findings will be made available to members of the Australian book industry through the media and scholarly articles published in ‘journals that deal with the economics of arts and culture’, according to Zwar. An article on Australian authors and their experiences with ebooks is available on the ASA website here.

 

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