The Role Of Technology In The Publishing Industry


Technology and tools of communication affects every aspect of our daily lives. It has changed the way in which we interact socially, and as a result we have become wired. The Internet has been the driving factor towards the change in our personal lives and the way we are dependent on technology to conduct our personal affairs. Be it filing our taxes online or getting groceries delivered to our doorstep, we have to thank the development in information technology and communication for that. Consider society a decade ago, people were bound to return to their desktops for even checking their e-mails. But changes in technological communications have made things more convenient than we could ever imagine now. Everything is just a click away from us.

While technology has transformed our personal and social lives significantly, it has also had a great impact on the business world leading to developments. The publishing industry is one business world which has been affected drastically because of technological advances. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Guttenberg in 1440 AD is considered to be a major step in information technology which in turn created a large demand on the paper industry, an important part of the publishing industry. This in turn opened roadways for employment and laid the foundation for the publishing industry.

This industry is not just confined to one particular division but rather fragmented into the newspaper, book, and magazine industry. We all know how mass media tools have been affected because of technological innovations. The growing demands for e-books and online resources on the Internet have lead to the publishing industry witnessing a slump in its business. The Internet, e-books, online journals, newspapers, and printing-on-demand are all said to be responsible for a downfall in the printing industry.

One good example of an online publishing company is Notionpress by the trio Naveen Valsakumar, Bhargava Adepalley and Jana Pillay. The three-year-old company, Notionpress is already one of the fastest growing in the field with 1,000 plus authors having registered with it already. I refer to it for many reasons. They are professional with their job. They have enough expertise on the art of crafting books and know how to present it to the client. Their prices are quite competitive thanks to the advanced publishing techniques they use.

Notionpress provides the highest royalty to its clients which is 100% of the net profit. They help you build yourself as an author and your book as a brand. These people understand the market very well and know what strategy to use and how to push their product to people. You can check out their store here.

The Internet geeks will be well aware of the fact that because of the popularity of online resources and materials available, authors can directly reach out to their readers. This in turn also affects the value of the publishing supply chain. It can be said that printing industry has been digitalized but is the digital revolution really killing the publishing business? A section of society will agree on this while others will simply agree to disagree on this. The debate ensuing on the fate of the publishing industry has garnered a lot of attention over the years. The impact of digital technology on the printing industry has its own positive and negative aspects. Even though society has turned tech-savvy and advanced, there is a certain place for printed books that will fail to go out of style.

Let’s examine the changes that technology has brought about in the publishing industry.

Digital technology affect e-books and online newspapers mostly. We can say that while digital technology does have an impact, it is not solely responsible for the dying out of the printing industry. The effect of technology in publishing continues to be a source of tension between IT and the content creators – authors, editors, designers, and production teams.

Online newspapers and journals have pretty much taken over printed space. The power of retailers and sellers to influence readers to buy has also been lowered to an extent. While online newspapers allow readers to use content for free, the debate amongst the publishers whether or not the dissemination of information for free is correct or not, is still a valid point. With the onset of online newspapers, the traditional publishing business have been hampered. The notion behind this is clear. When we can easily access materials on the Internet for free, get news on our fingertips, explore a digitalized room of news with video stories and slideshows inserted, people no longer feel the necessity to buy newspapers and magazines. This in turn also drastically affects the cultural and employment aspect in our society. There is a negative connotation attached to the use of free content available online. Most of the newspapers have started to run both online and printed versions of the same edition. The impact on printed newspapers can be seen from its lower equilibrium demand because of online content use free of cost. Since this hampered the printing industry, most of the online sites came up with a subscription fee but failed to utilize it. It was observed that when material online came with a fee, people started to prefer printed edition over online newspapers. One disadvantage that directly stems from the rise in digital technology platforms is that newspapers had to lose out on the revenue that they otherwise gained from advertising companies that wanted to promote their products through the ad section in the papers. The Internet allows advertising at cheap prices as compared to newspapers. Also, the numbers in newspaper circulation came down with the rise in online newspapers and news apps designed for smart phones. Because there was a decrease in sales of the physical copies, it adversely affected the printing companies. The need for printing them had also reduced as a result.

Some intellectuals have said that both printed paper and online newspapers are substitutes for each other. How far this stands true is altogether a different topic of discussion.

Another technological advancement which is said to affect publishing industry are e-books. E-books are not a substitute for printed books but rather an opportunity for the publishing industry to reinvent or revamp itself. Digital media has for sure removed the boundaries of geography and time. Now one can easily publish, read, and print books anytime and anywhere they want to. E-books or electronic books are digital objects with textual features/graphical representations that integrates the idea of traditional books. But while information technology has simplified the work of publishers, the cost of a book has multiplied. This can be attributed to the cost of infrastructure which is required to automate the production process of books. So yes, information technology is expensive. But again they can be considered substitutes of traditional printed books. When there is an increase in e-books, the demand of books increases and vice versa. But one thing that is to be mentioned here is that children’s books mostly remain paper-based as e-books read online are not very user-friendly for young children. So, in this case e-books cannot be a substitute for hard-cover books.

In conclusion, technological advancements in the digital platforms has certain negative as well as positive aspects. The main platform affecting publishing industry are the online newspapers and e-books which can be attributed to the dying of the print industry. Digital media has revolutionized the publishing industry and over-simplified the work of authors and publishers, where authors can directly market their titles and reach out to their readers, even when there is a situation where government has banned their books from being sold. So this is where liberalization of the Internet comes to use.

But then the unrestricted use of Internet has adversely affected the publishing Industry. Because of hordes of online content to be chosen from. Books have lost their aesthetic value, and there is a decline in the reading culture which results in lower revenue being generated by the publishers and the constant fear of them going out of business in the future looms large. With even school text-books being digitized, a lot can change in publishing business.

While the pros and cons of technology is still a heated discussion, it is unlikely that books and papers will be wiped out by the progress of a digital platform. Online newspapers, journals, books, and newspapers have their own place and advantages. And while it is true that the publishing industry has witnessed several changes because of technological advancement, there is always a middle ground that can be achieved for both to survive symbolically.

Featured image via Pixabay.

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