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The British Library and the other UK Legal Deposit Libraries have been collecting various forms of born-digital digital publications since 2013 as part of what is known as Non-Print Legal Deposit (NPLD). In 2017, the UK Legal Deposit Libraries established an Emerging Formats project to look at selected types of content that were potentially in scope for NPLD. At the beginning of 2018, the British Library’s digital preservation team commenced research, as part of the project, into the preservation implications of some of these new forms of publication. Over the course of three months, the project analysed a small sample of interactive narrative works and mobile eBook apps from the Apple store. The evaluation revealed specific characteristics including: the automated personalization of narrative content; the integration of images taken by device cameras; movement-driven behavioural changes to item displays; the use of third party content to drive narratives forward; and, game-like features with a high dependency on visual, illustrated displays. Engagement with content experts underlined the significance of the interactive elements, suggesting that any subsequent preservation plans need to take this into account. Accompanying technical analysis using the Library’s format sustainability assessment framework identified issues around DRM (digital rights management), proprietary environments, and the use of third-party content. Whilst further research is clearly needed to validate the findings beyond the initial sample size and to resolve the technical challenges identified, other more conceptual questions remain about such matters as ownership, authority, provenance, versioning, and personalization. Engagement with content providers will be key to resolving all of these in a satisfactory manner.
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