Thesis (Ph.D by Published Work)

What Do Book Publishers Do and How is the Book Evolving?


This PhD by Publication captures an ongoing exploration of the book industry and the changes affecting the book itself. Two central questions are examined: What do book publishers do? How is the book evolving? The thesis shows the coherence of the research questions, demonstrates the linkages between the published works, and how they contribute to the overall field of publishing studies. The thesis is constructed around nine works published over a 17-year period: three monographs, five book chapters, and one journal paper. Overall the works add coherent analysis and new insights to our understanding of the book industry, devising models, offering new interpretations, and moving on beyond simple descriptions of what publishers do. The publications show why publishing operates in certain ways, how publishers can and do add value, and what challenges they face from digital and other developments. The business model of the book remains robust, and the printed book continues to demonstrate resilience as part of a broader family including ebooks and audiobooks. Long-term trends in the UK publishing industry are identified through analysis of time series data to establish what correlation if any exists between the national income of a country and its sales of books. The methods employed in the research include semi-structured interviews, case studies, industry data and archival research. These are discussed in detail outlining some of the decisions made and the background to the methods. New concepts are advanced in the works alongside structured analysis of the industry and its operations. The publications not only explain what publishers do and how they add value – they also show why some functions are carried out by third parties. Theoretical models advanced include the value chain in publishing, which shows how publishers add value to content. The concept of digital capital shows how publishers need to connect with readers, and the importance of the co-creation of value. A tripartite concept of the book goes beyond a technical definition to advance a dynamic model which shows how a book is not just an information architecture but also occupies a special place in society, which grants it privileges such as lower taxation and prestige, and has a distinct business model.

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Phillips, Angus

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford International Centre for Publishing


Year: 2023

© Phillips, Angus
Published by Oxford Brookes University
All rights reserved. Copyright © and Moral Rights for this thesis are retained by the author and/or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This thesis cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.

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  • Owner: Angus Phillips
  • Collection: eTheses
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  • Views (since Sept 2022): 86