- Plural of publisher
Publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature or information – the activity of making information available for public view. In some cases authors may be their own publishers, meaning; originators and developers of content also provide media to deliver and display the content.
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 websites, blogs, games and the like.
Publishing includes the stages of the development, acquisition, copyediting, graphic design, production – printing (and its electronic equivalents), and marketing and distribution of newspapers, magazines, books, literary works, musical works, software and other works dealing with information, including the electronic media.
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have been published, and (3) for copyright purposes, where there is a difference in the protection of published and unpublished works.
The process of publishing
Submission by author or agent
Book and magazine publishers spend a lot of their time buying or commissioning copy. At a small press, it is possible to survive by relying entirely on commissioned material. But as activity increases, the need for works may outstrip the publisher's established circle of writers.
Writers often first submit a query letter or proposal. The majority of unsolicited submissions come from previously unpublished authors. When such manuscripts are unsolicited, they must go through the slush pile, in which acquisitions editors sift through to identify manuscripts of sufficient quality or revenue potential to be referred to the editorial staff. Established authors are often represented by a literary agent to market their work to publishers and negotiate contracts.
Acceptance and negotiationOnce a work is accepted, commissioning editors negotiate the purchase of intellectual property rights and agree on royalty rates.
The authors of traditional printed materials sell exclusive territorial intellectual property rights that match the list of countries in which distribution is proposed (i.e. the rights match the legal systems under which copyright protections can be enforced). In the case of books, the publisher and writer must also agree on the intended formats of publication -— mass-market paperback, "trade" paperback and hardback are the most common options.
The situation is slightly more complex if electronic formatting is to be used. Where distribution is to be by CD-ROM or other physical media, there is no reason to treat this form differently from a paper format, and a national copyright is an acceptable approach. But the possibility of Internet download without the ability to restrict physical distribution within national boundaries presents legal problems that are usually solved by selling language or translation rights rather than national rights. Thus, Internet access across the European Union is relatively open because of the laws forbidding discrimination based on nationality, but the fact of publication in, say, France, limits the target market to those who read French.
Having agreed on the scope of the publication and the formats, the parties in a book agreement must then agree on royalty rates, the percentage of the gross retail price that will be paid to the author, and the advance payment. This is difficult because the publisher must estimate the potential sales in each market and balance projected revenue against production costs. Royalties usually range between 10-12% of recommended retail price. An advance is usually 1/3 of first print run total royalties. For example, if a book has a print run of 5000 copies and will be sold at $14.95 and the author receives 10% royalties, the total sum payable to the author if all copies are sold is $7475 (10% x $14.95 x 5000). The advance in this instance would roughly be $2490. Advances vary greatly between books, with established authors commanding large advances.
Once the immediate commercial decisions are taken and the technical legal issues resolved, the author may be asked to improve the quality of the work through rewriting or smaller changes, and the staff will edit the work. Publishers may maintain a house style, and staff will copy edit to ensure that the work matches the style and grammatical requirements of each market. Editing may also involve structural changes and requests for more information. Some publishers employ fact checkers.
PrepressWhen a final text is agreed upon, the next phase is design. This may include artwork being commissioned or confirmation of layout. In publishing, the word "art" also indicates photographs. This process prepares the work for printing through processes such as typesetting, dust jacket composition, specification of paper quality, binding method and casing, and proofreading.
The activities of typesetting, page layout, the production of negatives, plates from the negatives and, for hardbacks, the preparation of brasses for the spine legend and imprint are now all computerized. Prepress computerization evolved mainly in about the last twenty years of the 20th century. If the work is to be distributed electronically, the final files are saved as formats appropriate to the target operating systems of the hardware used for reading. These may include PDF files.
Publishing as a business
The publisher usually controls the advertising and other marketing tasks, but may subcontract various aspects of the process described above. In smaller companies, editing, proofreading and layout might be done by freelancers.
Dedicated in-house salespeople are rapidly being replaced by specialized companies who handle sales to bookshops, wholesalers and chain stores for a fee. This trend is accelerating as retail book chains and supermarkets have centralized their buying.
If the entire process up to the stage of printing is handled by an outside company or individuals, and then sold to the publishing company, it is known as book packaging. This is a common strategy between smaller publishers in different territorial markets where the company that first buys the intellectual property rights then sells a package to other publishers and gains an immediate return on capital invested. Indeed, the first publisher will often print sufficient copies for all markets and thereby get the maximum quantity efficiency on the print run for all.
Some businesses maximize their profit margins through vertical integration; book publishing is not one of them. Although newspaper and magazine companies still often own printing presses and binderies, book publishers rarely do. Similarly, the trade usually sells the finished products through a distributor who stores and distributes the publisher's wares for a percentage fee or sells on a sale or return basis.
The advent of the Internet has therefore posed an interesting question that challenges publishers, distributors and retailers. In 2005, Amazon.com announced its purchase of Booksurge and selfsanepublishing, a major print on demand operation. This is probably intended as a preliminary move towards establishing an Amazon imprint. One of the largest bookseller chains, Barnes & Noble, already runs its own successful imprint with both new titles and classics — hardback editions of out-of-print former best sellers. Similarly, Ingram Industries, parent company of Ingram Book Group (a leading US book wholesaler), now includes its own print-on-demand division called Lightning Source. Among publishers, Simon & Schuster recently announced that it will start selling its backlist titles directly to consumers through its website.
Book clubs are almost entirely direct-to-retail, and niche publishers pursue a mixed strategy to sell through all available outlets — their output is insignificant to the major booksellers, so lost revenue poses no threat to the traditional symbiotic relationships between the four activities of printing, publishing, distribution and retail.
Academic publishingThe development of the printing press represented a revolution for communicating the latest hypotheses and research results to the academic community and supplemented what a scholar could do personally. But this improvement in the efficiency of communication created a challenge for libraries which have had to accommodate the weight and volume of literature.
To understand the scale of the problem, consider that approximately two centuries ago the number of scientific papers published annually was doubling every fifteen years. Today, the number of published papers doubles about every ten years. Modern academics can now run electronic journals and distribute academic materials without the need for publishers. Not surprisingly, publishers perceive this emancipation as a serious threat to their business. In reality, the interests of scholars and publishers have long been in conflict. Scholars desire unlimited access, while publishers need to control distribution to maintain the source of revenue.
Today, publishing academic journals and textbooks is a large part of an international industry. The shares of the major publishing companies are listed on national stock exchanges and management policies must satisfy the dividend expectations of international shareholders. Critics claim that these standardised accounting and profit-oriented policies have displaced the publishing ideal of providing access to all. In contrast to the commercial model, there is non-profit publishing, where the publishing organization is either organised specifically for the purpose of publishing, such as a university press, or is one of the functions of an organisation such as a medical charity, founded to achieve specific practical goals. An alternative approach to the corporate model is open access, the online distribution of individual articles and academic journals without charge to readers and libraries.
A somewhat related development is open source publishing, which is participatory group editing, as exemplified by various wiki projects, such Wikipedia, Wikiversity, and Citizendium.
Technically, radio, television, cinemas, VCDs and DVDs, music systems, games, computer hardware and mobile telephony publish information to their audiences. Indeed, the marketing of a major film often includes a novelization, a graphic novel or comic version, the soundtrack album, a game, model, toys and endless promotional publications.
Some of the major publishers have entire divisions devoted to a single franchise, e.g. Ballantine Del Rey Lucasbooks has the exclusive rights to Star Wars in the United States; Random House UK (Bertelsmann)/Century LucasBooks holds the same rights in the United Kingdom. The game industry self-publishes through BL Publishing/Black Library (Warhammer) and Wizards of the Coast (Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, etc). The BBC has its own publishing division which does very well with long-running series such as Doctor Who. These multimedia works are cross-marketed aggressively and sales frequently outperform the average stand-alone published work, making them a focus of corporate interest.
Independent publishing alternativesSee also Alternative media
Writers in a specialized field or with a narrower appeal have found smaller alternatives to the mass market in the form of small presses and self-publishing. More recently, these options include print on demand and ebook format. These publishing alternatives provide an avenue for authors who believe that mainstream publishing will not meet their needs or who are in a position to make more money from direct sales than they could from bookstore sales, such as popular speakers who sell books after speeches. Authors are more readily published by this means due to the much lower costs involved.
- Epstein, Jason. Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future.
- Schiffrin, André (2000). The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read.
- Ugrešić, Dubravka (2003). Thank You for Not Reading.
- Abelson et al (2005). Open Networks and Open Society: The Relationship between Freedom, Law, and Technology
Publishing on specific contexts:
publishers in Arabic: نشر
publishers in German: Edition
publishers in Esperanto: Eldonejo
publishers in Spanish: Publicación
publishers in French: Édition (document)
publishers in Hindi: प्रकाशन
publishers in Italian: Editoria
publishers in Hebrew: הוצאה לאור
publishers in Macedonian: Издаваштво
publishers in Japanese: 出版
publishers in Dutch: Uitgeverij
publishers in Portuguese: Editoração
publishers in Russian: Издательское дело
publishers in Sicilian: Pubbricazzioni
publishers in Tamil: பதிப்பகம்
publishers in Turkish: Yayınevi
publishers in Ukrainian: Видавнича справа
publishers in Yiddish: דרוקעריי
publishers in Chinese: 出版