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.