«The future of the book is not digital. There is a future for the digital book», the statement is from Miguel Freitas da Costa, general secretary of the Portuguese Association of Editors and Booksellers, who participated this afternoon in the 2nd National Congress on Intellectual Property , taking place at Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
Invited to answer the question: The Future of the Book è Digital? The official admitted that, for now, it is difficult to anticipate what the future of digital books will be, recognizing that «we are witnessing an explosion of electronic books», but also stressing that they «continue to represent a very small part of the market».
However, he said he does not believe that the digital book will replace the entire paper format. The handling experience or the presentation are differences that, in their perspective, will maintain the distinction between the two supports, preventing comparisons from equal to equal, and forcing the coexistence of the two models in the future. «Digital books are not books. They are sets of images or texts. A book obeys a certain format and is physical», he defended.
Miguel da Costa also stresses that, at least for the time being, the «future of the digital book is very dependent on the paper book» and that in the future he also cannot «imagine a situation in which a book can go directly from the author to the public» , believing that many elements of the model that today applies to the physical book will continue to be valid for the digital world. «There will always be an edition of the book» before publication, he believes.
Anticipating future scenarios and how the book industry can adapt to the new times – while guaranteeing that «the idea that there is a war between digital books and paper books» is false – the APEL secretary general also considers that the music recipe cannot be applied directly to books. «The situation in books is not quite the same as in music. Nobody wants to read just one chapter of a book».
Already on the sidelines of the panel in which he participated, the official said to TeK that he was in agreement with changes to the legislation that clarify and facilitate the digitization of books, but underlined the importance of adopting models that guarantee respect for copyright. He also admitted that for younger audiences the digital book may be a first choice, but he did not agree that it will be a way out to recover reading habits, explaining that currently the numbers – which do not take ebooks into account even point to growth at this level, with regard to the Portuguese reality.
Miguel da Costa also explains that in terms of intellectual property rights and digital rights, the association is a defender of national legislation, as opposed to European legislation, as he considers that this way it is easier to meet the reality of each country.
The governing body has also sought to ensure an active role with European bodies and at national level, in the defense of the protection principles it defends.
In the same panel of debate participated the person in charge of legal matters at Google in Portugal and Spain and the president of the Portuguese Press Association. The first explained the logic of Google Books, as a way to bring books to the Internet that would otherwise be inaccessible or available to a much more restricted audience.
João Palmeiro da API detailed the initiatives that the entity has carried out in order to increase the mechanisms of protection of copyright, namely with regard to the online dissemination of press content protected by copyright.
Editorial note: The news was corrected in the position of the head of the Portuguese Association of Editors and Booksellers, poorly identified in the event program and poorly indicated by TeK. Miguel da Costa is secretary general of the association and not president, as he said.
Cristina A. Ferreira