In thinking about modes of publishing, it has to be said that we are at a point of transition. There seems to be a steady move towards digital modes of publishing, which offer more diversity at a number of levels in comparison to traditional media outlets, particularly print.
What I mean by diversity is the array of platforms available online, which enable just about anyone to publish. The trend towards digital publishing has effectively lead to the rise of the amateur through the convenience of using easily accessible platforms such as YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to publish our lives online for the world to see.
I have long been cynical of Facebook and Twitter, however there is no doubting that these online platforms have both been significant in assisting the process of decentralising where the power resides in the world of publishing. You just have to read the submission guidelines for Pan Macmillan to get a grasp of the restraints placed upon what material can be published. At this corporate end of publishing, there is obviously a stringent level of professionalism that the company must adhere to, which is obviously of particular importance in order to distinguish professionalism from amateurism.
John Naughton (2010) makes reference to this in relation to e-books, highlighting the importance of publisher’s enhancing their technological competencies to distinguish themselves from amateurs. He goes on to predict that in the future there will always be books, but publishers are questionable.
This trend is not only applicable to the publishing of books. As YouTube has risen to prominence the roles of publishers and audience have been completely reversed. No longer is society dependent on the establishment for entertainment.
News is not immune from this power reversal either as demonstrated by the New York Times Paywall system. To increase its reader following, the Times created an optional ‘paywall’ whereby the reader receives free content from the days news and then has the option of paying for content after they pass the ‘paywall’ point. I should emphasis the word optional, because the reader doesn’t have to pay if they don’t want to.
The shift to online news is arguably the biggest contributor to this trend. As news becomes more readily available for free, the New York Times are relying more on their readers to value quality and pay for content that they would have otherwise paid for in a tangible newspaper. Dan Gilmore (2011) has claimed that there will be an epic struggle for newspapers to maintain revenue in online formats into the future. This is the problem newspapers face simply because they must employ a journalist whilst competing with the vast array of outlets that exist online.
In conclusion, I think it is fitting to assume that the transition in publishing is only just beginning. I think that as new modes of publishing arise, the power will shift further towards the audience. Hopefully this will foster more creativity and force established and professional publishers in all their forms to improve the quality of their publications, but I guess only time will tell.
Gillmore, D (2011) ‘How The New York Times Paywall is Working’, Wired, August 14
Naughton, J (2010) ‘Publishers Take Note; The Ipad is Altering the Very Concept of a Book’The Guardian,December, 19
Pan Macmillan Submission Guidlines, http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/submission_guidelines.asp