Digitization of Publishing

Though the predictions of the doom of traditional publishing do not match with the available statistics, we cannot deny the gradual rise of online publishing. Most of us will agree that paperbacks still enjoy the adulation of both authors and readers, but it’s time we accept e-publishing as a parallel publishing system that is only climbing up the ladder with time.

The onset of digitization has transformed the rules of publishing, and the ripples created by cellphone publishing are making authors and publishers go bonkers. The most significant factor responsible for the striking success of e-publishing is the huge cost-cutting in storage, transportation, and printing. Thanks to content digitalization, book prices have plummeted as e-books are being distributed through digital content management systems, thus saving the huge cost of printing on paper. If you are a reader on a budget, you are living in the best of times. A smartphone with high-speed internet is all you need to be a bookworm…nope, a cell worm.

How did it all start?

The seeds of e-publishing were sown by Michael S. Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, who intended to make literature travel far and wide under his ‘Project Gutenberg.’ This project had a meek start in 1971 when Michael and a few volunteers manually copied just about 10 texts on a computer but gained momentum with the introduction of Web1.0 in 1991. This development gave life to the project by connecting the documents together through static pages.

The Rise of Writing Apps

This paradigm shift in publishing has given rise to a new breed of writers who are all set to change the ways of storytelling and ready to embrace the shift in the medium. Apps like Juggernaut, Audible, and Wattpad are giving these fresh talents exactly what they want—their desired online space.

Wattpad, the social storytelling app from Toronto, which surfaced on the internet way back in 2006, boasts of 100 million users worldwide. This community-based app has taken online authoring to the next level by making online stars out of budding writers. Anna Todd, who wrote the bestselling After series on Wattpad,

rose to fame and bagged a movie-writing contract with Paramount Pictures. The poster girl of Wattpad, she used to write one chapter every day on the app, which gave her millions of readers and followers. Amazon’s Audible App is a subscription-based app that promises to offer over 200,000 thousand Indian and international audiobooks. If you are not much into reading but have an ear for rattling stories, this one is for you.

Blown by the digital publishing scene worldwide, Chika Sarkar, the co-founder of Juggernaut, was quick to read the writing on the wall.  She launched the Juggernaut website and app to fill the void of smartphone publishing here in India. Juggernaut has raised the standards of self-publishing by presenting quality books with unique story ideas. This mobile-publishing venture has a pay-per-story format for its readers. In a span of two years, it has earned the tag of the smartest content curator online. Some of its bestsellers are Jasmine Days by Benyamin, The Legend of Laxmiprasad by Twinkle Khanna, and Democracy XI by Rajdeep Sardesai.

The smartphone boom and high-speed internet penetration has given e-publishing a new boost. Digital marketing tools help the content reach its targeted audience. The ability to spread content at the blink of the eye is the superpower every publishing house and media giant wants to acquire today. Be it an emerging  blogger or Goliath portals like The New Yorker or The Economist, everyone is busy carving a space for themselves on the web. Huge investments are being made to digitize print and broadcasting media. Digital omnipresence is what they are seeking to stay ahead of the pack.

And the winner is…

Now, coming to the bigger question, the bigger fight—who is going to stay and who is going to be knocked out? Is e-publishing going to completely take over traditional publishing, or will the latter reinvent itself?

Being on the smartphone can be highly distractive for readers, as every second a new app finds its way to the Play Store. This takes the focus away from reading and leads to content hopping, which makes e-publishing supremely competitive.

The increasing madness for smartphones has raised serious physical and mental health issues in society. If people are wise enough to listen to these warning bells, there are chances of them returning to the old ways of reading. The optimists believe that both self-publishing and e-publishing will learn to coexist, but for those who believe in the survival of the fittest, the one curating the more captivating content will rise above the other. So, one thing is for sure—content will undoubtedly remain the king, and will continue to rule the publishing industry, irrespective of the medium.

Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.

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Raunaq Rajani