On 23 May I was invited to speak at the ‘Audio and Audio-Visual Academic Book of the Future’ event, a symposium hosted by the British Library. The event was convened by Steven Dryden, a sound librarian at the BL, and aimed to bring together publishers, librarians and researchers to discuss the use of audio-visual content in scholarly books. I presented alongside two other speakers: Richard Mason, a novelist who showcased his new co-venture, Orson & Co, a platform that publishes audio-visual books, and Rebecca Lyons, who provided an overview of the Academic Book of the Future project, which she co-investigates.
Following the three presentations, the group engaged in an open discussion where all delegates reflected on their experiences of working with AV content in their careers or in their research. One question, which was pertinent to those attending from the BL, was on the issue of archiving: how do we determine which version of a book is the original when it is published simultaneously in different formats? Are ISBNs enough to identify each version, and how realistic is a future in which copyright clearance will be required for multiple e-formats even though print rights are challenging enough for authors to secure?
The floor was offered to a number of the ECRs in attendance who discussed their practice-based research and collectively emphasised a need for broader publishing options. They also raised the issue of attribution and lamented the difficulty of describing their contributions to online platforms and non-traditional forms of publishing. It was agreed that continued collaboration will be required between authors, publishers, librarians, archivists and coders to build a future in which AV content can be welcomed as a critical component of online publishing rather than viewed as an awkward luxury.