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 Unsworths 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 Posts 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:
Where can I go for further information?
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