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Electronic Publishing
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One of the most incredible opportunities offered by electronic communications is the ability for almost anyone to become a publisher. A publisher collects, creates or develops information or entertainment content, then packages and delivers it through a distribution channel to an audience of consumers. That packaging and distribution function has traditionally been the hurdle for most people, because it is so expensive -- whether for publishing books or magazines, distributing movies, or broadcasting radio or television programming. The Internet, however, provides anyone with such a channel for reaching a potential audience of ever-increasing size, already up into the tens of millions of people.

The power of the computer helps individuals or organizations develop and package their knowledge content - text, audio, graphics, animation, multimedia, video, games, software, even virtual reality. The Internet and the World Wide Web help them reach consumers. It creates a powerful opportunity in electronic publishing that not only enables more individuals and small organizations to participate, but also makes very small market publishing economically viable.

The possibilities inherent in electronic publishing are truly limitless. You can find entire or partial books online, electronic magazines, academic journals, graduate theses, libraries of sounds and pictures, directories of information, training manuals, political statements - anything that an organization or individual has the imagination to conceive and believes others will be interested in.

In order to become a Web publisher, you need space on a World Wide Web server, as discussed in Creating A Web Presence. You will also want to become familiar with issues such as file formats, what kinds of materials are suitable for Web publishing and copyright issues covered in John Unsworth’s Electronic Publishing FAQ.

As a Web publisher, you have the option to offer your product free to consumers, to charge consumers for it, or to seek sponsorship or advertising support. It all depends upon your personal or organizational objectives. Many businesses such as Apple Computers now provide documentation online to their customers, online magazines such as HotWired accept subscribers; and individuals share information about their interest areas on sites such as The Looney Tunes Home Page. Some businesses sell information as do the Washington Post’s Digital Ink or the Wall Street Journal. If you intend to charge readers, you will also want to learn more about methods of Electronic Commerce and Security.

Copyright is another issue for electronic publishers. In fact, many of our traditional concepts of copyright and intellectual property are evolving because of the existence of electronic communications. For more information, see:

One thing no electronic publisher should forget is the importance of marketing their contributions. Certainly, register with all of the major Web search and directory services such as Yahoo or Lycos. But don’t stop there. Like any successful enterprise - business or otherwise - you have to help your audience find your product or service. That may mean postings to electronic newsgroups, finding other sites to link to and having them link to your site, notifications at conferences or meetings related to your subject area, as well as traditional marketing such as advertising, public relations, etc.

Where can I go for further information?

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