Modes Of Publishing.

Modes of Publishing are becoming far more diverse and multifaceted. In the modern world traditional modes of publishing are having to compete with more technological based, multimedia platforms. No longer does wanting to get your book or article published mean sitting in an office with a publishing executive or editor and pitching your idea. Rather, through social media sites such as Youtube and Twitter and the rise of the Citizen Journalist in the ‘Blogosphere’ anyone and everyone may publish. Or can they? Is this revolution further widening the gap between developing and developed nations? Further questions can be asked about the very sustainability of the publishing industry and also the quality of published material the world is afforded.

In order to survive, both publishing and media companies have altered their business processes, their modes of publishing, in a way that makes them more competitive in the digital age. No where is this more evident than in websites such as amazon.com and their Kindle e-reader, the iPad and online spin-offs of traditional print newspapers. But is this necessarily a good change? Are we at risk of losing the romance of reading a paperback novel or newspaper, and if so where does the revenue stream come from for these companies? I’ll revisit this later.

Even original publishing companies such as Pan Macmillan and The MIT Press have established online methods of submitting proposals for publication. Aspiring authors essentially rely on electronic feedback on whether or not they are to be a published writer and in Pan Macmillans case this may take up to a month. If unsuccessful, the writer is given no feedback on possible improvements or changes, in fact they are not even afforded the decency of a reply. So why not just hop onto wordpress and start blogging? Why not start up a Youtube account and make videos or go onto sound-cloud and release your music. Millions have done so in this increasing trend of citizen journalism and self-publication. In favour of this trend is the fact that such modern forms of publication are free, easy to use and offer wide exposure to your respective works. However and perhaps the main problem for serious writers, video-makers, music producers and a like is creditability and the notion of provenance. The origin of your work i.e. where it is published and who published it speaks volumes about the reach of your piece. In most cases, unfortunately, many will not take the time to read your blog, watch your video or listen to your music because one, no one knows who you are and two the internet is full of people just like you. Of course there are the odd exceptions, with many reputable blogs out there and people who make decent income out of their youtube videos, but for most a successful career via online publication is a long stretch. If making an income through self publication is not your goal, then online platforms such as Youtube, twitter and wordpress are perfect for expressing yourself, otherwise its a very tough world out there.

This problem for budding citizen journalists and self publishers is exacerbated by the fact that every major news source in the world now has an online version. Publications such as the New York Times, The Australian and a company I interned for in the summer MergerMarket (Owned by the Financial Times) now have well established websites for their readers. However is this shift to digital platforms more of an advantage or disadvantage? If people are able to access news and information for free via the internet, then what will happen to traditional print newspapers. Will this mode of publishing be made obsolete? The answer is of course no. Reputable media sources with a strong provenance will always have a hardcore following. Those who are happy to travel to the book store or newsagency to purchase hard copies of information they value. And even then, as digital media begins to spread its wings so to speak and announce itself as a dominant platform, people will still be happy to purchase a digital reader such as an iPad or Kindle and buy material on-line. A perfect example of this is summed up in Felix Salmons article in wired ‘How The New York Times Pay Wall Is Working.’ The article finds that, even though there are many loopholes in the New York Times online publication in which one can access free material and information, it is evident (backed up by statistics) that online subscriptions continue to grow because people are happy to pay for quality content. Even in my own experience working at MergerMarket it was evident companies were willing to pay thousands of dollars in annual subscription fees because the information they were receiving added value to their company.

So summing up, modes of publishing have undeniably evolved and will continue to do so. Traditional print publications are now having to compete with mutlimedia platforms. This revolution has afforded people the opportunity to express themselves on a wide variety of platforms such as Youtube, wordpress and Twitter. However this shift has also created collateral damage. The gap between the developed and developing nations is being widened because of simple economics. Poorer nations simply can not afford such luxuries and freedoms so there is still work to be done. For publishing and media companies this change is not a threat, rather a a beacon for change, a sentiment most media sources are adhering through online spin-offs.

References

http://mitpress.mit.edu/authors/default.asp

http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/submission_guidelines.asp

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/08/new-york-times-paywall/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/guardian-editor-paywalls

 

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Publishing: E-Readers and iPads.

Publishing is defined by wikipedia as the process of production and dissemination of literature  or information the activity of making information available to the general public. In this modern technological world the very notions of publishing and printing have come into question in the sense there that has been a dramatic shift from traditional print media to online, digital based platforms. These digital platforms for publishing and printing are more apparent than ever with the invention of E-Readers such as Kindle and of course the iPad.

The question on everyone’s mind is will this shift to multimedia platforms such as the iPad see an end to traditional paperback forms?

The way in which we can read and access material is undeniably changing, a sentiment shared by Jonah Lehrer “I think it’s pretty clear that the future of books is digital.” Jenna Wortham writes “Outside of a book club, reading a book is a pretty solitary affair. Two entrepreneurs, Jason Johnson and Jason Illian, are trying to change that with the new mobile application Social Books” – an obvious statement of the intent of businesses which are trying revolutionize the reading  experience creating something interactive and dynamic. In what Mike Shatzkin refers to as the ‘e-book era’ publishing companies are shifting production methods to e-books rather than paperback and why wouldn’t they? It makes sense from a business perspective as Shatzkin reiterates “Even the most sober industry observers are seeing revenues exceeding 50% from ebooks in the next two or three years, which would mean that substantially more than half the units of these books are selling electronically.” The success of Amazon.com and its Kindle are surely testament to this, aren’t they? So society wants to be up to date, people want new, exciting and dynamic gadgets and businesses are giving it to them? That’s natural progress right? Well not all think so …

John Naughton believes we are missing the point and I have a feeling he is not the only one. In his article “Publishers Take Note: The iPad is altering the very concept of a book” he makes reference to a survey conducted by the economist in which the resounding result was that its readers like to take the time out each week to sit down, and flick through the magazine. Reading a publication such as a book or a magazine is an experience in itself. E-books and iPads are threatening to make the ‘Romance’ of reading obsolete. Many people like the feel and the smell of books and the satisfaction of turning pages, rather than flicking their index finger on a high resolution pad. “We will trade away understanding for perception. The words will shimmer on the screen, but the sentences will be quickly forgotten.” – Jonah Lehrer. Naughton makes reference to the fact that by entrusting every turn of a page to a large company, we are giving away our freedom to read, share and converse about books “Welcome to the world of eReaders and the arteriosclerotic narrowing of freedoms they bring in their wake.” Furthermore people do not neccessarily want to plaster what they are reading or there thoughts all over a social network such as that created by Social Books. This brings into question the public vs private debate. Will E-Books and a like just be another way for MNC’s to delve deeper into our personal lives? To exploit our private information for economic gain?

As aforementioned there is no denying the digital age of reading is upon us. The growth of E-Readers, iPads and the like will continue to grow exponentially. As demand for E-Books rises, publishers will continue to shift their production to digital platforms. It is the law of economics, demand and supply. So what does this mean for the poor old paperback? In my opinion and through analyis of the readings I believe traditional paperbacks will not become obsolete, rather they will become peripheral to mainstream methods of taking in information, reserved for the hardcore romantics who will always find the time to buy, sit down and read their books.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishing

Naughton, John (2010) ‘Publishers take note: the iPad is altering the very concept of a ‘book’ The Guardian, December 19, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/19/ipad-publishing-kindle-books-apple>

National Public Radio (2010) ‘E-Book Boom Changes Book Selling And Publishing’, December 21, <http://www.npr.org/2010/12/21/132235154/e-book-boom-changes-book-selling-and-publishing>

Wortham, Jenna (2010) ‘Social Books Hopes to Make E-Reading Communal’, New York Times, November 11, <http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/social-books-hopes-to-make-e-reading-communal/>

Shatzkin, Mike (2012) ‘Some things that were true about publishing for decades aren’t true anymore’, The Idea Logical Company, January 12, <http://www.idealog.com/blog/some-things-that-were-trueaboutpublishing-for-decades-arent-true-anymore>

Lehrer, Jonah (2010) ‘The Future of Reading’, Wired, September 8, <http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/the-future-of-reading-2>

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