Digital publishing • 18 January 2009 • The SnowBlog

Digital publishing

          The phrase has an unhelpful vagueness. 'Digital publishing' - what is it? Publishing via digital media? Publishing in the digital age? Publishing of books using a digital process? I thought I'd giwrite down what I think of as digital publishing and see if you agree. In my mind, digital publishing is split into two distinct areas. One, the rendering of writing on electronic devices. Two, the use of computers and technology to publish printed, or otherwise, books. 

The first area is where everyone gets very excited, because that's where all the speculation takes place about devices. Which device is going to be the iPod of the booktrade? Are ebooks any good? Who's publishing books for reading on mobile phones? When will Apple launch the large screen iPhone? It's also of greatest interest because the answers to these questions have a bearing on whether publishers today will exist tomorrow. If your model is to print lots of copies of books, but the market shifts to ebooks, then you're going to have a bit of a problem. So it's right and proper that publishers should be interested in devices. 

However, it's the second area in my mind that is of the most immediate interest - the use of technology to create and publish printed books. If done properly and innovatively, any work you do in this area will allow you to easily publish books destined for print electronically, too. I'm talking about everything from using the Adobe suite of software to lay out beautiful books and produce a print-ready PDF, to using ONIX data to accurately disseminate bibliographic data around the world. There are two great things about this sort of digital publishing: you can have total control, and you can do it very cheaply. 

Take ONIX data, for instance. Sure, you can give Vista or one of the larger software houses 25,000 to write you an all singing, all dancing solution, but you can also do it for a grand or even absolutely free if you write your own solution.ONIX is just a language standard; a set of definitions 


The SnowBlog is one of the oldest publishing blogs, started in 2003, and it's been through various content management systems over the years. A 2005 techno-blunder meant we lost the early years, but the archives you're reading now go all the way back to 2005.

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