This article provides an overview of theoretical and methodological concepts that can be utilised for empirical research into the book publishing industry. Publishing research is positioned within the broader field of book studies / book history. Some of the issues highlighted include: the epistemology of production statistics, analysis of publishing lists, and the availability and usefulness of quantitative research on book production. A methodological framework for the profiling of the South African book publishing industry, in the format of a model of the “publishing system”, is tabled. An overview of the impact of book studies and publishing research on Afrikaans literary studies is provided. The article concludes with a perspective on new research possibilities for Afrikaans literary studies and proposes an inter-institutional, multi-disciplinary team research project for the development of a comprehensive history of the Afrikaans (fiction) book.