Amore di plastica: A survey on digital publishing in Italy

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

During the last ten years the digital publishing industry has gone through an important development in terms of the creation and adoption of new software. E-books that are widely known and used in PDF format can now be entirely designed with new software and enriched with multimedia and multimodal features, which can also embed Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies.

Since the design of the layout and the software of enhanced e-books are both created with the same technology used in the web, these enhanced e-books can be analyzed and described with theories and concepts used in the field of web technology. The innovative features that these e-books present include practices termed as Multimedia Literacy, i.e. multilinearity, multimedia, multimodality. For these reasons the analysis of the works of fiction and poetry published in this format can be carried out through these theories and research methods, already elaborated in the field of electronic literature.

The method of media-specific analysis conceived by Katherine N. Hayles, as well as her comparative study on the relationship between print books and works of electronic literature, the studies on software and new media aesthetics by Lev Manovich, and Johanna Drucker’s work that encompasses print books, artists’ books and digital aesthetics are among the most important resources.

Despite the popularity of e-books, the practice of multimedia literacy and the increasing interest in AR and VR technology in various industrial sectors as well as in the arts, the market growth and development of the technology for both the creation and the preservation of digital books has been remarkably low. Enriched e-books, defined by editors and experts as “enhanced e-books”, or referred to with the acronyms EPUB (electronic publishing) and DPUB (digital publishing), may also fail in popularity because of similar terminology used in online and web- based publishing.

In my presentation I will summarize a survey made in 2018 among six digital publishers from Italy, all founders of publishing companies or projects in digital publishing. The survey covers a time span from 1971, the year Project Gutenberg was founded to 2017 when the IDPF was combined with the World Wide Web Consortium.

In my interviews I asked questions concerning the creation, distribution and preservation of these types of books. Moreover, the interviewees gave their personal views on the acceptance and awareness of this technology among their customers in their respective fields. The topics addressed range from works of literature, art and school education.

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Jorge Sáez Jimé...