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Publishing Studies


Admission requirements

Successful completion of the BDMS first-semester obligatory core courses. Only available for Book and Digital Media Studies students and BDMS exchange students. Others may contact the course organisers.


Traditionally, publishers are the agents that organise, and to a large extent control, the dissemination of printed information, increasingly also in electronic forms. Publishing Studies looks at the wider role and meaning of publishing in society and analyses the mechanisms within the so-called publishing industries and different publishing fields, ranging from academic and educational publishing to trade book publishing. The whole publishing chain will be covered, from the work of authors, through the activities of publishing houses to retailers and even customers, be they private persons or institutions like libraries. Moreover the course will examine new and emerging practices in publishing, mostly resulting from the introduction of digital technology and convergence, such as for instance participatory media, open access publishing, digital printing and new rights regimes. Main goal of the course is to develop and elaborate relevant research questions and identify issues in present day publishing that demand research, as well as to discuss work that has already been done on these issues.

Course objectives

Students learn to understand the nature of publishing as a socio-cultural phenomenon, as well as the principles and practices of (the main fields within) the publishing industry. They learn to understand and to analyse the main questions and issues that engage this sector and acquire a long-term perspective on publishing: past, present and future, specifically in the context of the process of continuous change now confronting the industry as a result of the application and advance of new technologies. Students will be prepared for the writing of an MA thesis within the field of publishing studies; they will become able to identify a subject and topic for research, to plan and carry out the necessary research and to prepare a written account.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars, supplemented by excursions and/or workshops.

Assessment method

Course essay.


Limited Blackboard support.

Reading list

  • John Thompson, Merchants of culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005.

  • John Thompson, Publishing in the digital age: The transformation of academic and higher education publishing in Britain and the United States, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005.

  • Choice of either Giles Clark and Angus Phillips, Inside Book Publishing, 4th edn, London and New York, 2008 or Albert Greco, The Book Publishing Industry, Mahwah and London, 2005.


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply


Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Co-ordinator of Studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.