Just like old times?
The Independent recently announced they would be the first traditional British newspaper to continue as a solely digital publication, highlighting the print vs. digital debate that’s been in existence for several years. Reports have been conducted and statements made detailing how traditional publishing would soon die a death at the hands of technology.
In the modern era, it’s far more common to witness commuters clinging onto an iPad Mini, Kindle or even a smartphone, rather than a 300-page novel or weighty magazine. It’s no wonder Apple are generating around 1 million new users a week on their iBook app.
However, contrary to the belief paper books are a dying breed, William Langley of The Times has boldly claimed digital publishing is on its way out while traditional is on the rise. Are consumers becoming interested in physical publishing once more? Or is this another way to fuel the print vs. digital fire?
Is it possible that instead of a constant battle between the two, traditional publishing can work within the parameters of a digital world? Here’s a look at the positives and negatives of both.
The positives of traditional publishing
Traditional publishing has an undeniably rich history, which is respected and celebrated. Literature fans worldwide can remember their first love affair with a book; the artwork, the weight of the paper and the smell triggered with each turn of the page.
Paper books offer a practical form of studying, and a more tangible approach when referencing. Highlighting text, circling quotes and transferring on-the-spot thoughts to the page has always been a popular way to revise for exams.
If a book has been published by a reputable firm, it gives the reader confidence in the quality of the work.
The negatives of traditional publishing
People who read a great deal have to store physical printed books or magazines. It’s not an eco-friendly process, due to the amount of paper that’s used and trashed. Although recycling options are available, they’re not always guaranteed.
Once a book has gone to print, there’s no going back. It’s rare a mistake in spelling or grammar will get past a proofreader, but of course everybody is fallible. Also, if a text needs to be changed for legal or accuracy reasons, it’s not an easy or cheap task.
The positives of digital publishing
Online publishing has opened up the doors for everyone to become an author. There’s far more variation and for a fraction of the cost. The bulk of the costs associated with digital publishing are due to software, design, access, and marketing. It’s not even necessary for an author to seek out a publishing house, as it can all be completed independently.
If any mistakes are made after the title has been released, it’s much easier and cheaper to rectify.
The negatives of digital publishing
What can be positive in one set of circumstances can often be a negative in another. Such is the case with digital publishing and the ease of access to anyone who’s willing. You have to wade through a mass of sub-standard self-published texts to find one with real credibility. There can be issues with readability and user preferences. There are no set regulations for formatting, layout and design. This can sometimes leave brilliant content surrounded by clumsy formatting, which is likely to put a potential reader off.
Fulfilling the needs of consumers
As the rapid decline in print sales slows down, the market has become far more consistent in recent times. There’s no denying the impact digital publishing has had on the trusty book. However, the fact remains that not all consumers are alike, and there’ll always be a preference between the two mediums.
Print and digital can work in tandem with each other to suit readers’ lifestyles. It may be the case of reading a digital version of The Independent on the train and later curling up with the latest Rankin novel an hour before bedtime. Publishing should be about fulfilling the needs of the consumer; could one format exist today without the other?
There is definitely a place for both print and digital in today’s modern world, so perhaps publishing houses should be less concerned with fuelling the print vs. digital debate, and instead embrace the opportunities of the two working together.
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