Publishing

Printer working an early Gutenberg letterpress from the 15th century. (engraving date unknown)

Publishing is the dissemination of literature, music, or information.[1] It is the activity of making information available to the general public. In some cases, authors may be their own publishers, meaning originators and developers of content also provide media to deliver and display their content. Also, the word "publisher" can refer both to an individual who leads a publishing company or an imprint and to an individual who owns/heads a magazine.

Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works, such as books (the "book trade") and newspapers. With the advent of digital information systems and the Internet, the scope of publishing has expanded to include electronic resources such as the electronic versions of books and periodicals, as well as micropublishing, websites, blogs, video game publishers, and the like.

Publishing includes the following stages of development: acquisition, copy editing, production, printing (and its electronic equivalents), marketing, and distribution.

Publication is also important as a legal concept:

  1. As the process of giving formal notice to the world of a significant intention, for example, to marry or enter bankruptcy
  2. As the essential precondition of being able to claim defamation; that is, the alleged libel must have been published
  3. For copyright purposes, where there is a difference in the protection of published and unpublished works

There are two basic business models in book publishing:

  1. Traditional or commercial publishers: Do not charge authors at all to publish their books, for certain rights to publish the work and paying a royalty on books sold.[2]
  2. Self-publishing: The author has to meet the total expense to get the book published. The author should retain full rights,[3] also known as vanity publishing.

History

Publishing became possible with the invention of writing, and became more practical upon the introduction of printing. Prior to printing, distributed works were copied manually, by scribes. Due to printing, publishing progressed hand-in-hand with the development of books.

The Chinese inventor Bi Sheng made movable type of earthenware circa 1045, but there are no known surviving examples of his printing. Around 1450, in what is commonly regarded as an independent invention, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in Europe, along with innovations in casting the type based on a matrix and hand mould. This invention gradually made books less expensive to produce and more widely available.

Early printed books, single sheets and images which were created before 1501 in Europe are known as incunables or incunabula. "A man born in 1453, the year of the fall of Constantinople, could look back from his fiftieth year on a lifetime in which about eight million books had been printed, more perhaps than all the scribes of Europe had produced since Constantine founded his city in A.D. 330."[4]

Eventually, printing enabled other forms of publishing besides books. The history of modern newspaper publishing started in Germany in 1609, with publishing of magazines following in 1663.

Historically, publishing has been handled by publishers, with the history of self-publishing progressing slowly until the advent of computers brought us electronic publishing, which has been made evermore ubiquitous from the moment the world went online with the Internet. The establishment of the World Wide Web in 1989 soon propelled the website into a dominant medium of publishing, as websites are easily created by almost anyone with Internet access. The history of wikis started shortly thereafter, followed closely by the history of blogging. Commercial publishing also progressed, as previously printed forms developed into online forms of publishing, distributing online books, online newspapers, and online magazines.

Since its start, the World Wide Web has been facilitating the technological convergence of commercial and self-published content, as well as the convergence of publishing and producing into online production through the development of multimedia content.