What is Electronic Publishing?


Already firmly established in the consumer sector, electronic publishing is redefining the boundaries between print and digital, still image and video, passive and interactive. Modern digital workflows support almost any form in which content might appear, from traditional print to digital, web, video, and even interactive content. Building in the full spectrum of potential publishing avenues — print, web, video, mobiles and tablets, and interactives — from the beginning is not only a way to streamline production overall, but also to increase the reach of the materials produced by leveraging the content over a wide range of media. If the first revolution in electronic publishing was making publishing platforms accessible to anyone, the next phase is the linking of these platforms together to produce new combinations and new types of content. New concepts like the Online Scholarly Catalog Initiative (OSCI) and Responsive Design will allow that content to be easily archived as well as ported to any device.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The rise of etextbooks, the changes in scholarly publishing and communication.- bryan.alexander bryan.alexander Oct 1, 2015 - helga helga Oct 6, 2015
  • The gradual migration of academic content out of the classroom and into the wide world.- bryan.alexander bryan.alexander Oct 1, 2015 - helga helga Oct 6, 2015 - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015
  • Higher education has used electronic publishing for many decades primarily in journal publishing. The rise of discovery tools has brought more of this type of content to the forefront of the undergraduate experience of enquiry based learning. The electronic publishing of books is more complex as markets adjust and the range of products from research monographs to interactive textooks continues to develop. Many UK universities are moving to digitised course content or reading lists to improve access to key material for courses. In the current market this can be expensive. Our students are likely to demand this level of provision and courses and support services such as libraries will have to adjust. In the UK the research funding councils are currently considering the process for research monographs to go open access. Various other intiatives will encourage open electronic publishing models. The dynamic content that can be part of electronic publishing offers a great opportunity; mentioned as workflows in the description, the content will use a variety of media and enable multiple contributions and conversations on the content, blurring the published resource with the normal provision of online course content. - jan.howden jan.howden Oct 14, 2015
  • We've been talking about this migration for years now but there have been powerful market and cultural forces that have resisted the trend. Clearly, the textbook world is an inefficient way of information transfer and is out of sync with the way that most of our students think about information. I think one of the big issues is that up to now most e-books have not leveraged the advantages of the digital medium very effectively. Instead, they are just linear transpositions of the paper versions of the book with a few hypertext links to simulations. This failure of imagination by the publishers should not surprise us. I think that this area is still ripe for disruption as someone will introduce a more dynamic way of conveying information and allowing for greater creativity on the part of the learner than is currently being produced. Of course, there is a second side to this: the professors. Lots of missed potential there. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015 Absolutely agree the platform for commercial HE is a dreadful experience for students and an administrative burden for librarians - in an age of information abundance the publishers have introduced a false model of scarcity in order to derive more profit from the new mode, I think we will see the move to alt-textbooks and new models of delivery but how scalable this solution might be is a concern - DaveP DaveP Oct 24, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The technology is outpacing the legal environment, which may prove to be one of the biggest impediments to progress in this area. - deborah.lee deborah.lee Oct 1, 2015 Very true! - bryan.alexander bryan.alexander Oct 1, 2015- helga helga Oct 6, 2015
  • The dynamics of ebooks: monopoly power, new data sources, new text forms, etc..- bryan.alexander bryan.alexander Oct 1, 2015
  • greater affordability of content; at the same time a challenge to traditional business models of publishers and printers - helga helga Oct 6, 2015
  • All of the above plus most UK university libraries spend most of their budget on books and journals that are published electronically. A broad range of commercially published materials is available to libraries at a reasonable negotiated rate. It is the key textbook market that will continue to seek business models are directed to individual end users and universities will have to decide how they influence and work in that market. Open textbook initiatives may have some impact here.- jan.howden jan.howden Oct 14, 2015
  • I think we often fail to recognize that this is a new medium. Even describing them as "ebooks" implies that they are in some way beholden to the environment of print publishing. Maybe it's time to invent a new term. Books have a role. Digital has a role. The failure has come in conflating the two, creating a situation where neither produces the outcomes we want them to. Portability and cost aside, digital books in their current form, provide an often suboptimal experience for the users and waste the potential of the medium. Incompatible file formats and walled gardens work against the promise of the open web and totally miss the potential of the networked world. The thing that will kill this off is the gradual emergence of free, quality information, just waiting to indexed in a meaningful way. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015 - DaveP DaveP Oct 24, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • greater affordability and improved availability of / access to content - helga helga Oct 6, 2015
  • Getting faculty to reshape what they are doing may be the only way to drive change in this area as this is not an open market. Students are forced to read (or not) the content required by their instructors and those instructors are programmed to keep up the old relationship between their course and what the publishers produce. Pressures to change instruction will in turn create pressures on this relationship and that, in turn, will create an environment more conducive to disruption. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015 - DaveP DaveP Oct 24, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?