The Growth of Digital Publishing

Electronic publishing has resulted in the gradual growth of digital libraries, containing research materials, online articles and literary works.

The growth of electronic publishing has introduced readers to new methods of accessing reading material. Once with the only option of reading on a computer screen, there now exists an emerging market for technology associated with digital publishing. For example, in its August 30, 2009 edition, Publisher’s Weekly reviewed a dozen devices specifically designed for reading electronic text. Although relatively new, this synthesis of technology and the written word has only begun.

Digital publishers offer a wide variety of materials to an even wider audience of readers. With an untold number of electronic publications, the impact of this industry is strong. Many epublishers, online merchants and individual authors have captured audiences in niche markets that would be difficult to reach through traditional the methods of publishing, as well as providing established readers with the convenience of purchasing digital publications online for immediate download.

In addition, a growing number of traditional publications, academic journals and other media outlets, too, have entered the world of digital publishing with profitable results. From statistics collected by the Association of American Publishers and the International Digital Publishing Forum, U.S. eBook sales have increased significantly over time. Sales of eBooks from 2002 totaled approximately $1.6 million, while 2008 sales reached over $37.5 million. The resulting sales figures demonstrate that ePublishing is not only an emergent force, but also an established industry poised to experience continued growth.

Not everyone is excited about this growth, however. Books in the Digital Age, a 2005 book by John B. Thompson, explores many of academia’s concerns about the standards of material published electronically. Critics state concerns that the ease of publishing and distributing materials online will result in lower standards of available work that can now avoid the many channels of scrutiny and review that hardcopy works face before being approved for publication.

Some groups have voiced their concerns that digital publishing devalues both books and reading. These opponents state that reading digitized words on a screen cannot replace the pleasure that comes from pouring over words and anticipating each turn of the page. Others are less concerned about the visceral act of reading, finding themselves more troubled by the challenges of technology. For example, some groups are worried that changing technology could result in digital libraries with outdated collections being abandoned online or that changes in digital formats could result in a host of inaccessible works.

With less overhead needed, fewer wasted resources and no concerns about storing surplus editions, digital publishing has proven to be an affordable alternative to issuing printed works. Consumers benefit from less expensive reading material that can be accessed at their own convenience. In all likelihood, digital publishing will not replace printed works, but its persistent growth is a continual balancing act. Digital publishing will continue to establish itself as the connection between the influence of technology and the power of the written word.

Martin Alan enjoys writing on subjects such as literature, digital publishing, online magazines and self publishing. He also enjoys keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and innovations in technology and online marketing.

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Author: Martin Alan
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