Publishing

Printer working an early Gutenberg letterpress from the 15th century. (1877 engraving)

Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free[1]. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works, such as books, newspapers, and magazines. With the advent of digital information systems, the scope has expanded to include electronic publishing such as ebooks, academic journals, micropublishing, websites, blogs, video game publishing, and the like.

Publishing may produce private, club, commons or public goods and may be conducted as a commercial, public, social or community activity[2]. The commercial publishing industry ranges from large multinational conglomerates such as RELX, Pearson and Thomson Reuters[3] to thousands of small independents. It has various divisions such as: trade/retail publishing of fiction and non-fiction, educational publishing (k-12) and academic and scientific publishing[4]. Publishing is also undertaken by governments, civil society and private companies for administrative or compliance requirements, business, research, advocacy or public interest objectives[5]. This can include annual reports, research reports, market research, policy briefings and technical reports. Self-publishing has become very common.

"Publisher" can refer to a publishing company or organization, an individual who leads a publishing company or an imprint, or to an individual who leads a magazine.

Publishing in law

Publication is 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 For copyright purposes, where there is a difference in the protection of published and unpublished works