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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Publishing is one of only a handful of industries which has a lineage dating back centuries, yet in important respects, remains on the frontlines of change. This alone would render it an interesting object of academic study, and yet it is only the start of what is peculiar and valuable about this protean and influential industry. Publishing has a global significance because it pioneers new cultural forms and trends; it undergirds the public sphere and the production and dissemination of new scientific knowledge; it enables modern education systems. Publishing then, has a structural role in society. However, defining publishing remains a challenge and while it is often connected to the idea of a book, this is by no means exhaustive of publishing as journal publishers would be the first to attest. And beyond that, the book itself, as with publishing, faces a time of immense change. The digital revolution has impacted books and publishing and understanding this change is one of the key challenges of understanding publishing today. This Introduction sets up such questions and then summarizes the volume as a whole. It seeks to position the work as an example of interdisciplinary scholarship from across the fields of media, communication, literature, sociology, business, and library and information science, whilst also producing an analysis poised between theory and practice: as both a landmark in the study of publishing but also something useful in its dynamic, messy reality as an ongoing, flourishing activity.

Keywords: Publishing studies, media studies, book, ebook, book history, Oxford University Press, scientific revolution, digital, technology

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