The Janus Strategy: Launching a Norwegian Ebook Service in an Internationalized Publishing Industry

By Terje Colbjørnsen.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

April 4th 2011 the Norwegian ebook service Bokskya (lit. “The Book Cloud”) was launched. The service was intended as a national industry-wide standard infrastructure for the distribution of ebooks to consumers. Initiated by the largest Norwegian publishers and a wide array of booksellers, Bokskya formed part of a double strategy, or what I will term the Janus strategy: 1) A defense of existing market positions and an attempt to transfer competitive advantages from traditional print publishing to ebook publishing, and 2) An attempt to create a bulwark to fend off competition from international ebook providers Amazon, Apple and Google. However, Bokskya met with criticism from several directions and had to face competition from a rival ebook service, Emviem, which attracted several small and medium-sized publishers. The paper examines both intended and realized strategies and ultimately goes on to suggest a set of strategic dimensions to explain the case of Bokskya, while also having broad relevance to contemporary book industry challenges. The paper is part of an on-going Ph.D. research project on the Norwegian book industry and the digital strategies of Norwegian publishers facing international competition.

Keywords: Digital Publishing, Ebooks, Publishing Industry, Book Industry, Publishing Strategy, Internationalization, Globalization

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.61-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.251MB).

Terje Colbjørnsen

PhD Student, Department of Media and Communication, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Terje Colbjørnsen is currently (2011-) involved in the Ph.D. programme at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo. The Ph.D. project concerns ebooks, digital strategies and the structure and dynamics of the field of Norwegian publishing. Colbjørnsen was previously (2006-2011) employed as an editor with the Department of Distance Education at BI Norwegian Business School, where digital publishing was a key concern. He graduated cand. philol. from University of Oslo 2005 with a dissertation on photographic images in W.G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz. Other academic interests include innovations in literary fiction, theories of popular culture, technological innovation, media economics, media mana- gement.


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