Ten years ago, it was almost impossible to imagine that something could replace a good old paperback that you brought with you. You could take it wherever you went or read it in the comfort of your home. It could be a widely popular magazine with the latest buzz or a newspaper hot off the press that you picked up at the nearest newsstand on your way to work.
Now, with the rise of digital technology and use of computers, almost all spheres of our lives have been fundamentally transformed. The advent of e-readers (the most popular of which was Amazon’s Kindle which sold out in less than six hours on the day it was released in 2007), massive popularization of tablet computers (with Apple’s iPad debuting in 2010 and pushing tablets into the mainstream) and steep advancement in the development of smartphone devices over the last couple of years has brought about major changes to the publishing industry.
Fueled by the Digital Revolution and the widespread adoption of digital computers, digital publishing has gained massive popularity in a very short period of time.
What Is Digital Publishing?
A number of authors broadly define digital publishing, which can also be referred to as e-publishing, digital publishing or online publishing, as non-print material that is produced digitally. Electronic publishing also includes the digital publication of eBooks, EPUBs, electronic articles, digital magazines, distribution of written information through CD-ROMs, DVDs, portable document files (PDFs) and development of digital libraries and catalogues.
According to the Statement on Electronic Publication by the Modern Language Association “this [electronic publishing] format has become a standard for scholarly communication” and “Electronic publications should receive credit comparable to that given to print publications.” Over the past couple of years, it has also become common to distribute books, newspapers and magazines to consumers through tablets and smartphones.
It seems people no longer have time or have just lost the habit of going to the nearest newsstand and purchasing a copy of their favorite newspaper/magazine. Neither do they visit a bookstore to get the latest book of the beloved author whose writing they fell in love with. Why would they, when they can purchase and download the same newspaper, magazine or book on their electronic device in a few clicks from the comfort of their home?
Just imagine waking up on an icy cold morning with rain pouring down outside. You are snuggled in your warm and comfortable bed. You are dreading going out to pick up the latest newspaper or weekly magazine. Going to the nearest bookstore seems like an impossible task equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest.
After a lengthy and tough negotiation with your inner self, you decided to abandon the comfort of your bed, get up, get dressed and go into the storm. However, at the last moment, your mobile phone vibrates and the following notification appears on its screen: “X magazine is out now! Download the latest issue here.”
And just like that, you can enjoy reading your favorite magazine from the comfort of your bed.
The same thing with books, because, nowadays, you can pre-order the latest novel from your favorite author and get it on your smartphone or tablet computer on the day of release, or even before that!
Advantages of Digital Publishing
Digital publishing is one of many revolutionary ideas in the last couple of decades. It has so many great advantages that it has caught up with traditional publishing and seriously challenges it.
The technical part of the process of publishing and distributing a book includes a large financial investment, hard work and great patience. The only thing one needs to publish an electronic book (also referred to as e-book) is a single computer and a decent Internet connection. This makes the e-book a product that is fairly inexpensive to produce and distribute.
Previously, many authors were not able to reach larger audiences due to limitations of their traditional publishing houses. Many others, who wanted to publish a book, could not afford to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for it. Now there are e-books, these authors got the perfect solution that meets all their needs. They could easily publish a book and market it online where readers from all corners of the world had a chance to buy and deliver it with a few clicks.
Another advantage of electronic publishing is the fact that any author or publisher can inexpensively collect valuable market-research data. This works through electronic interaction with the buyer of the electronic publication. There is the possibility of sending a follow up e-mail to the buyer. This is a great way to get genuine feedback that can be of great importance to new and aspiring authors.
Storage is one of many advantages of electronic publications because more information can be stored electronically than on paper. The vast amount of storage online or on your electronic devices means you can download and keep thousands and thousands of e-books, journals, magazines and other electronic publications. You no longer need to trudge around with a bag full of books. Store all your favorite pieces of reading on your e-reader, tablet computer or smartphone and take them with you wherever you go!
Digital publishing not only saves space, it also saves precious time. Time is one of the most sought-after resources in the world today. Electronic publications can be downloaded and sent across the globe in a matter of seconds. Publishing a traditional paperback takes a couple of months while you can publish an e-book in just a couple of weeks!
Almost all electronic publications can be easily accessible by anyone regardless of geographic location. As with the previous point, the only thing one needs is the right software and a good Internet connection. This accessibility makes it simpler and more efficient for people to search and download the data and information they require.
Digital publishing has one more big advantage over traditional publishing. There is the possibility of keeping data up-to-date so buyers can access the latest version. Publications such as encyclopedias or dictionaries are updated on a monthly basis.
Disadvantages of Digital Publishing
Even though electronic publishing has many advantages over traditional publishing, there are a couple of downsides to it.
Many people point out piracy and theft of valuable data as one of the major disadvantages of electronic publications. Even though hackers are continually finding ways to steal vast amounts of information on the Internet, some electronic publications are still out of their reach. A great number of electronic publishers use Digital Rights Management (DRM) or some other method of protection. This should protect against piracy, preventing unauthorized redistribution of digital media and intellectual property from being copied freely. Unfortunately, pirates still find ways to bypass DRM.
As already mentioned, electronic publications are easy to access and produce using only a computer and an Internet connection. This is also a disadvantage because not everyone around the world has a computer device or internet access. Over time, as technology evolves, the number of such people decreases because Internet access is becoming a basic human right.
Another disadvantage of digital publishing is that electronic publications, especially e-books, have not yet reached the popularity of paperbacks and other printed publications. According to an article in The Guardian, “Ebook sales fell by 1.6% to to £554m in 2015, the first drop recorded in the seven years industry body the Publishers Association has been monitoring the digital book market. Meanwhile, sales of printed books grew by 0.4% to £2.76bn.” Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga explained this saying: “Digital continues to be an incredibly important part of the industry, but it would appear there remains a special place in the consumer’s heart for aesthetic pleasure that printed books can bring.”
Why Choose Digital Publishing?
Digital publishing has not only changed the lives of many readers and many authors as well, it has also changed the way we perceive the book industry and what it takes to publish a book.
Not long ago, you had to hand over five to ten thousand dollars to bring your dream book to life because traditional publishing houses rarely offer book deals to writers who do not have a huge reading audience ready to buy their book as soon as it comes out.
Now, however, with the help of digital publishers such as Bookish Fellow, BookBaby or Vook, you can publish an eBook in just a few easy steps. The only thing you need is a manuscript in any of the common formats such as PDF or Word, and a few hundred dollars.
Authors can now seize the opportunity and share their work with the whole world!