How to empower the European publishing sector

Highlights from ICT2013

During ICT2013, TISP organized a networking session, “ICT innovation empowering the European publishing sector”, in the section “Culture and Education.

This session brought together ICT stakeholders and publishing industry representatives to a common table in order to present the main requirements from the European publishing industry,define innovative ICT solutions that could be of interest to the publishing industry and propose joint (ICT-publishing) actions in the framework of Horizon2020.

The starting point was that the publishing sector has a key economic role to play and is vital to the development and preservation of culture, information, education and democracy at large in Europe. It is estimated that publishing industries account for 0.5 % of the GDP across the EU27 Member States, employing around 750.000 jobs in more than 64.000 companies. Book publishing is the largest European cultural industry. Future Internet technologies, cloud computing, smart devices and other developments related to technical migration represent a significant challenge for the publishing sector, as well as an opportunity.

Before the session, ideas and proposal for future projects were collected both from the ICT industry and from the publishing sector in order to present and discuss them during the session as well as to foster networking for creating consortia for submission of new project in the first calls of H2020.

The session was moderated by Antonio Alfaro Diaz, innovation consultant representing FGSR and featured presenentations by Enrico Turrin, Deputy Director of Federation of European Publishers and Patrice Chazerand, Director Digital Economy and Trade at DIGITALEUROPE.

Antonio Alfaro Diaz introduced the session, presenting the TISP network and its key objectives focusing on the opportunities for publishers, as creative industries, in collaboration with ICT industries. Enrico Turrin provided an overview of the key features of the digital transition in the sector of publishing, highlighting how ICT in publishing is not restricted to e-books but concerns quite all segments of the business cycle from authoring, editing, production and printing till marketing and distribution. From conception to consumption the whole process can be digital, supported by IT solutions. IT is present in every single part of the value chain, therefore this is an opportunity for improving any single process with/by ICT.

Digital publishing does not concern the disappearance of the paper book but the evolution of the book in other shapes and formats; this evolution is driven by ICT and there is a full horizon open for opportunities and possibilities. Digital publishing also is demand-driven and for this reason just took off the market only recently thanks to ICT trends leading to increasing availability of reading and technological devices, penetration of internet, e-book sophistication and raising digitization in education and schools. Opportunities and challenges raise in this scenario: while new digital products can be offered to readers that provide enhanced and easier experience of the content, the shift to digital also imply a number of issues to be tackled by publishers.

A number of the above opportunities and challenges can be fostered and addressed through increased cooperation with the ICT sector. For e-books formats, accessibility, reading software, interactive and enhanced content to e-book distribution, data exploitation, digital rights management, new production and distribution processes. This means that there is a huge potential for innovative projects that see cooperation between publishing and ICT sector that can be exploited.

Patrice Chazerand supported this assertion, remarking how the publishing industry in Europe is a success sector, it drives competitiveness, knowledge. Together with the other creative industries is an asset for European growth and employment. This richness together with the drive for innovation is something that put ICT and creative industries very close. ICT may help harness the power of Europe’s creativity and make the most of it worldwide. In turn, digitally-powered creative industries may provide Europe’s ICT with the most effective inspiration and showcasing.

The majority of the companies in this sector are SMEs. In H2020 there are many opportunities which the publishing sector can identify as joint intervention points: ICT 18-20; inclusive, innovative and reflective societies etc.

‘What is the next step?’, Patrice Chazerand asked in conclusion of his speech. To establish cooperation between the two sectors to have different opportunities. Help people work together, find partners, define cooperation opportunities around the H2020 calls.

In order to reach this objective some project proposals have been collected and introduced to the participants that shall initiate new thoughts/ideas for cooperation. Participants of the session joined the discussion after the presentations and proposed cooperation ideas and topic. Three comments/ideas in particular were raised by the participants:

  • new projects should be more closed to the market, new solutions should be readers-driven. It’s better not to imagine the future, just do it. Publishers need real solutions to reach out new users;
  • libraries in the digital era should change their functions. Preservation and storage is no longer their main function. Libraries should be spaces for accessing to cultural resources. And the access to cultural resources is changing and new ways should be experimented. The libraries are the best places to experiment and test the future of reading;
  • cultural content is mostly created in Europe but is sold massively by USA companies; Amazon now represents 75% of digital books market in Europe. This is an issue that should be addressed if we want an alternative to the present situation.

There is huge need for cooperation between the two sectors but the contacts and matchmaking mechanisms between the two sectors should be improved and focused in order to have more successful cooperation cases and projects. Cultural and creative industries need to cluster and assume the leadership and responsibility in defining their needs and launch innovative ICT-CCI projects. H2020 represents an excellent opportunity for the two sectors to start new cooperative project, which is value beyond funding opportunities. The new instruments enable smaller and more innovation focused projects to be funded seem to be of great interest for projects set up by SMEs belonging to publishing and ICT sectors, with particular emphasis, in this last, to start-ups. Some calls and priorities have already been identified where the two sectors shall work together and submit proposals. The SME instrument shall be also considered as a great opportunity for both sectors. To get the most from new European programmes of research and innovation, Cultural and Creative industries’ stakeholders should get properly trained and informed. A specific support would be also needed in terms of investor readiness and complementary sources of funding.

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