Digital Humanities and e-commerce: considerations on digital monographs.

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Alessandra Di Tella


Humanities, Commerce and Monographs are three terms that have been existing since a very long time. Nowadays, all of them are often conceived in a digital way that implies a radical change of paradigm in their main features. The aim of the article is to investigate the possibility of interaction between digital humanities and e-commerce, by their application to the genre of digital monographs. For digital monograph we mean born-digital, long-form, media-rich, scholarly publications, that reject the print-based form (and so the e-book format) and take advantage of the methods and tools of digital humanities. In particular, they re-think the traditional textuality of the essays that becomes “liquid” and multimodal. Because of publishing, obsolescence, discoverability, use, evaluation, etc. these products have to be hosted on a publishing platform that is suitable for the scholarly needs both of the authors and of the final users. The link with e-commerce arises from the need of the publishers of selling the research outputs, especially in countries where the academic publishing system is not based on University Presses but on commercial ones. The study wants to reflect on how the logic of profit and the cultural logic can coexist in a digital publishing platform: is it possible to overcome the «monograph crisis»? What are the major problems about selling an academic monograph? What business models could be the most suitable for this kind of publications? In what way can a publisher improve customer loyalty? The thesis of the article is that the digital enhancement of the monograph plays a key role in the sale. The opportunities offered by the digital humanities, in fact, are not only a matter of format; they are, indeed, what makes the substantial difference in the quality of the scientific communication. They make the authors and the publishers able to offer the consumer something that neither the print version, nor the e-book can do. First of all, a digital monograph allows a direct link with primary and secondary sources; secondly, it supports different layers of fruition and a larger accessibility. Moreover, it gives, both the author and the reader, the possibility to better represent and understand the complexity of the research work and of the methods and tools that are used. On the other hand, the article considers the infrastructure for producing and hosting these products and its importance in the development of a cultural community based on scholarly value creation.  It’s only setting this goals that a digital publishing project could realize the ambition of selling his products and so make the project sustainable. After discussing these aspects, the article postulates a possible functioning business model of subscription based on the concept ofcultural engagement. The conclusions concern the requirement of an editorial workflow that links together all the phases, from the author’s composition work to the reader’s purchase method.

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DI TELLA, Alessandra. Digital Humanities and e-commerce: considerations on digital monographs.. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai Digitalia, [S.l.], v. 63, n. 1, p. 41-54, nov. 2018. ISSN 2559-6721. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 july 2019. doi: