The discussion then turned to somewhat more practical matters. Beyond artists, institutional roles and capital often play pivotal roles in the production and consumption of books. Often changes within institutional structures and their interest can create the stage for novel approaches to be realised. The following session, titled ‘Printed Matter,’ moderated by Meera Menezes, asked how these forces are being nurtured and navigated to favour creative publishing, and, additionally, how digital formats have adapted to emulate the book’s successes.
Strøm-Olsen picked up the baton with his presentation Publishing in Disruptive Times: Managing the balancing act between creating a ‘precious product’, facilitating knowledge production, and getting the ‘book’ to the customer. In considering the challenges for contemporary publishing houses such as his, he reiterated Niermann’s thoughts on the lack of criticism in mainstream media, as well as detailing other odds facing physical book distribution including the gradual rise of the e-book. Art books have bypassed these challenges through their precious and niche nature, however the niche approach is conservative and doesn’t allow a broader audience to grow. Strøm-Olsen believes that a book should aim to solve a specific problem, and if it is successful in print it should be able to be made successful digitally – this is the challenge for publishers going forward.