Automation and/or Emotion: The Book Industry in the Post-Digital Age

Free Public Lecture

Automation and/or Emotion: The Book Industry in the Post-Digital Age

Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room
Sidney Myer Asia Centre
Swanston Street


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As the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century nears, books and the publishing industry are firmly located within a digital environment. Every aspect of publishing is digitally mediated: marketing and communications are integrated with social media, while distribution and sales rely on digital infrastructure and data-driven market knowledge. Self-publishing and the creation of e-books and apps expand the industry. Technology giants including Amazon, Apple and Google have proved disruptive entrants in this digital environment, challenging and changing traditional publishing practices.

Reports of the ‘death of the book’ in a digital age, however, appear to have been greatly exaggerated. The publishing industry is entering its post-digital phase, in which print books, book festivals and other analogue aspects of the business hold their own alongside digital developments. In this mixed environment, the lecture will ask to what extent the industry is organised via digital automation processes (the algorithmic and the data-driven), and to what extent via human emotion. In the context of Amazon’s establishment of retail centres in Australia and the technology-led disruptions this may provoke across multiple industries, this lecture will address key public interests about what is happening to felt, human connections with books. Is there still a role for emotion, taste and personal experience amidst online selling, algorithmic marketing and data driven production?

This presentation will be delivered by Macgeorge Visiting Speaker: Claire Squires, Professor of Publishing Studies, University of Stirling.

Supported by the Macgeorge Bequest

Image credit: Scott Lewis


  • Professor Claire Squires
    Professor Claire Squires, Professor of Publishing Studies, University of Stirling; Honorary Professor of 20th and 21st Century Book Cultures at University College London, and Director of the University of Stirling’s Centre for International Publishing and Communication.