March 18-19 was dedicated to the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) Digital Summit for 2015 held at the National Library of South Africa in Pretoria, and was attended by Liam Borgstrom, lecturer in the Department of Information Science’s Publishing division. Mr Borgstrom also presented at this summit.
This is not an annual event, but is organised according to the needs of the industry. This summit was organised in conjunction with the Publishers Association of South Africa, the South African Booksellers Association and the Department of Arts and Culture.
The purpose of the summit was to bring members of the book industry, supportive information technology industry, as well as government together in one place in order to discuss how digital technologies are affecting the industry and to then produce a comprehensive list of action points with which to answer the challenges facing the industry.
Government was represented by members of the departments of Arts and Culture, Trade and Industry, Telecommunications and Postal Services and Basic Education. Also present was Panyaza Lesufi (Gauteng MEC for Education), and this provided an open platform for members of industry comment on the current implementation of digital education technology and content within Gauteng.
The publishing industry was represented by the primary industry sectors of trade, education, and academic each of which was given a focused section, as well as affiliated supply groups including both SABA and LIASA, both of whom have requested for greater dialogue with publishers.
The summit displayed a deeply fragmented industry which, especially with regards to educational practice, needs to find a way to operate competitively within a collaborative space. Digital book content specifically has yet to stabilise in the way it has for much for academic journal publishing. South Africa is a unique position as far as localised content is concerned, and it was a theme within the summit that innovation in this area should be pursued.
It also highlighted how much experimentation is taking place amongst different industry role-players. There is a keen movement towards promoting digital literacy and a number of solutions to digital content distribution are being devised.
All slides and information are available on the SABDC website (www.sabookcouncil.co.za).