Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mei’s proposal for the iBook Project

I propose that we can organize the ibook based on Darnton’s “Communications Circuit” model. As a book on the future of print, we can discuss any potential changes in this model, and thus build a better understanding of the interrelationships among different players in the future. Based on the model, the book should have the following six chapters: authors, publishers, printers, shippers, booksellers, and readers.

In general, we will try to answer the following research questions in each chapter:
       1) Who are the players for each of the six roles in Darnton’s model in the future of print?
       2) What are the major factors affecting the development of these players in the future of print? (maybe in terms of technological, social, economic, legal, and political influences?)
        3) How do these factors shape each of the six players?

Besides the common questions listed above, we can ask some other more specific questions in each chapter:
1. Authors. How to define authorship in digital age? How do authors convey/exchange ideas? What are the influences on author’s power when the line between author and reader becomes blurred?

2. Publishers. What’re the major business models of publishing industry? What’s the impact of self-publishing on traditional publishing?

3. Printers. Can we claim “the death of pressman” after the emergence of multiple Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)? When more printing jobs now can be done by amateur or even ordinary people, how will that shape the future of print industry? What’s the impact of print-on-demand on the print industry? What’s the impact of 3D printing on the print industry, or even on print culture? What factors affect individual’s choosing between printing out a digital documents or leaving it in digital form?

4. Shippers. Who will be the shipper in the virtual world, or in the future of print? Where should the traditional shipper, such as the postal services, go in the digital age? (Need to come up more questions…)

5. Booksellers. How will the battle between physical bookstores and online bookstores go in the future? What’re the major business models for online booksellers? What’s the power of booksellers over publishers, readers and authors?

6. Readers. Are there any changes on readers’ reading habits in digital age? What factors will affect readers’ decision making process on choosing something to read? Does the type of reading materials (such as magazine, newspaper, academic book, or recreational book) have any impact on readers’ preference on digital vs. print format?

In the conclusion chapter (extra one besides the six main chapters), we can then summarize how to adopt and adapt the model as a whole in studying the future of print.

In my proposal discussed earlier, each chapter will examine these research questions in general. Also, I’d like to suggest that we can always include a case study in each chapter, if it’s possible (regarding the length of the book). For instance, we can study Amazon in the chapter of bookseller. 

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