Nowadays, advanced technology has simplified the ‘publishing’ process. The involvement of ‘middle’ parties (i.e. the publishers) in the process of providing a piece of information to the public has also been much reduced. These ideas are exploited when comparing the initial processes for a book to be published with the publication on Internet platforms (ex. Twitter, Wikipedia). Submitting a book’s proposal is a lengthy and complicated process. As prescribed on ‘The MIT Press’ and ‘Pan Macmillan Australia’’s website, the publishers require strict procedures for author to submit the introduction of their book. Approval takes few months to be processed (Pan Macmillan Australia). The following processes (i.e. editing, printing, distributing, etc) to get the books out of the market are believed to be more time-consuming. Furthermore, only selected content can be published by a particular publisher (i.e. Pan Macmillan does not publish children picture books etc.). In contrast, publishing on Internet platforms is not as formal as book publishing. Everyone can publish and edit’s other work on Wikipedia. Since its aim is to create an ‘online encyclopedia’ which summarizes all human knowledge (Wikipedia), its coverage is unlimited so that any information can be available in its archive. Internet platforms have simplifying the information’s acquisition process. It enables direct interactions between authors and audiences thus dis-intermediate involvement of difficult and expensive publishers.
However, new technology also raises number of concerns in the publishing industry. Books’ content is unchangeable, definite while Wikipedia explicitly announces no guarantee for the validity of its contents. Because the strict procedures, as described above, imposed by publishers, they ensure that only high-quality and market-appeal books can be published. Thus traditional book forms are more preferred in terms of reliability and accuracy. Furthermore, there are no longer clear categories between authors, editors, and readers. Readers can now become editors and authors as everyone can publish their work freely and edit others’ non-restrictively. This, in fact, reduces the authority of professionalism in this industry.
Moreover, the debate between the New York Times and the Guardian of whether online newspaper should charge a fee for viewing their content illustrates other dilemma for contemporary media channels. Because internet users are generally not willing pay for something they can access for free (i.e. news can be watched freely on TV). Fee-charging will disconnect lots of viewers and hit against the idea of ‘accessibility for everyone’ (Busfield, 2010). However, free distributions cannot be forever affordable and may lead to a collapse for some publishers (Carr 2010), and thus also violate the above idea. Therefore online newspaper must find ways to fund themselves. They must improve the attractiveness of their websites in terms of both content and outlook to attract more viewers, thus increase their advertising revenue.
The Mit Press, ‘Welcome to the Mit Press Author Services Area’, accessed on March 11th 2011, <http://mitpress.mit.edu/authors/default.asp>
Pan Macmillan Australia, ‘Submission Guidelines’, accessed on March 11 2011<http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/submission_guidelines.asp>
Carr, David (2010) ‘Dialing in a Plan: The Times Installs a Meter on Its Future’, The New York Times, January 20, accessed on March 11 2011 <http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/dialing-in-a-plan-the-times-installs-a- meter-on-its-future/>
Busfield, Steve (2010) ‘Guardian editor hits back at paywalls’, The Guardian, January 25, accessed on March 11 2011, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/guardian-editor-paywalls>
‘Wikipedia’, Wikipedia, accessed on March 11 2011 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia