Information, Medium & Society – The Publishing Studies Research Network International Award for Excellence

An annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Information, Medium & Society – The Publishing Studies Research Network.

Award Winner for Volume 16

Could the Digital Option Work for a Book Market under Stress?: The Case of Greek Publishers

In 2009, five major Greek publishers launched their first e-books along with specific reading devices introducing digital publishing to the Greek public almost twenty years after its appearance in the international scene. This first attempt did not lead to the establishment of an e-book market. E-readers were expensive and the fact that the Greek economy was being brought to a standstill at the same moment stopped all developments in that direction. Nine years later, e-books are still an infant industry in Greece with only a marginal part of 1 percent in publishers’ turnovers. Greek publishers, however, turn to the digital environment pursuing innovative actions to reach new readers, offer novel possibilities to writers, and take advantage of social networks for marketing purposes. This article shall examine digital start-ups and recent initiatives in the Greek e-book market in order to evaluate their scope and effectiveness in conditions of economic depression and to discuss the current reception of e-books among Greek readers.

This article is an attempt to set the Greek book market within international standards and investigate how innovative experiments in the digital sector might lead to escaping from the current economic crisis deadlock. I see this as important for two reasons.

First, Greece has always been protected from the international book market pressures because of the language barrier and the small size of its audience. Thus, it still preserves traditional business practices and ethics that have long vanished from Western publishing. Small and medium-size businesses, family owned and chronically undercapitalized are up until now dominant. They are, however, struggling to survive in a highly unfavorable environment plagued by low reading rates, scarcity of public libraries and high taxation, among others. Under these circumstances, becoming aware of other examples, inspiring experiences and best practices is of primary importance for dealing with present adversity.

Second, this is a moment when a younger generation of Greek publishers are actively experimenting with extraversion and are becoming involved internationally through participation in book fairs, partnerships with foreign houses and adoption of new business models. Nevertheless, the persisting problem is that the Greek book market remains insufficiently known beyond its borders, due to the aforementioned reasons. The article sheds some light into the inner structure of contemporary Greek publishing for an international audience.

Following this trail, I intend to further research the potential of Modern Greek book production to reach an international reading public as this would indeed maximize its impact and sustainability. The possibilities offered within the new digital environment are one side of the coin and, certainly, deserve more attention. However, to obtain significant conclusions one should explore the content side as well. Research should delve deeper and examine whether there are more substantial reasons than marketing for the difficulties Greek titles are facing in the international book market. This is an issue we should imperatively address in order to effectively integrate Modern Greek book production in the international landscape.

—Anna Karakatsouli

Past Award Winners

Volume 15

Ben Lerner and the Novel in the Age of Digital Media

Denise Rose Hansen, The International Journal of the Book, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp. 11-21

Volume 14

Christine de Pizan and Emily Dickinson: Feminine Power through Textual Production

Keith Kopka, The International Journal of the Book, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp. 23-39

Volume 8

A Codicology of the Interface: Reading Practices and Digital Reading Environments

Voytek Bialkowski, The International Journal of the Book, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.101–106

Volume 7

Peer Review and the Revolutionary Academic: A Kuhnian Critique

Adam Riggio, The International Journal of the Book, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.9–16

Volume 6

Innovation and the Future of e-Books

John W. Warren, The International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.83–94