GeneralICT and Information

Electronic Publishing (E-publishing)

Electronic Publishing

Information is an intellectual resource that has the capacity to change the image of the society. Consequently, large investments are being made by government all over the world on information technology industry for generating, processing and disseminating the information. Most of the scientific research literature today is coming on an array if information resources, such as floppies, magnetic tapes, internet, websites, CD ROMs, the outgrowth of advances in computer and communication technology. They are becoming more popular for accessing, retrieval and offering services electronically, replacing gradually their print counterparts. During the last three decades, the information formats and delivery systems have changed considerably. Internet is emerging as a very powerful tool to make information quickly available on network to all potential users located anywhere. Internet documents have the quality of all time accessibility. Timely delivery of extremely current information has always been a crucial factor in special libraries. Moreover such libraries have always dealt with a diverse range of non-book information and material, most of which is inherently suited to electronic format.

Electronic Publishing (E-Publishing))
  E-Publishing (Photo-Google)

Electronic publishing is the dissemination of information in electronic formats and its distribution to potential users either on electronic networks such as Internet and intranet or in stand-alone formats such as CD ROMs and diskette.

E-publishing has been defines as any non-print media material that is published in digitized form to an identifiable public. The media in an electronic publishing can be text, numeric, graphic, still or motion pictures, video, sound or as in frequently the case a combination of any or all of these.

E-publishing can be represented as

Electronic publishing = Electronic technology + computer technology + communication technology + publishing.

Electronic publishing (e-publishing) deals with the collection, modification and distribution of information, art and software in any form, such as on physical media or via computer networks. E-publishing may be broadly divided into two categories: online and offline publishing. Online publishing uses computer and communication networks including the Internet, intranet and extranet for delivery of the content. Offline publishing uses storage media such as CD ROM, CD-I, DVD, memory card and diskette for distributing the content. By definition, electronic publication (e-publication) is the publication of any form of electronic media.

Need of the Electronic Publishing:

The exponential growth in publishing has resulted greater difficulty in retrieving information from libraries and other sources due to the existing literature being widely scattered. The need to reduce the time required in conventional publishing and the realization of the potential and unique feature of electronic media are some of the reason which have resulted in the shift of emphasis from conventional publishing to electronic publishing. There are four main reasons for the development of e publishing,

  • Rapid development and wide use of computer technology.
  • Tremendous growth of computer networks.
  • Merging of computer and telecommunication technology.
  • Development of information industry.

The process of c publishing is done through electro copying. Electro copying is a process of converting printed material into an electronic form, this is achieved by scanning the printed material into an electronic database in which the text is stored in either image or character encoded form by mean of a scanning technique.


Definitions of Electronic Publishing:

According to F.W. Lancaster, “Electronic publishing is a publication process where the manuscripts are submitted in electronic format, edited, printed, and even distributed to readers (users) in electronic form by employing computer and telecommunication technology.”

“The production of document in computer readable form for distribution over a computer network or in other formats such as CD ROMS.”

“Electronic publishing is electronic commerce in digital goods and services that are intended for consumption by human sense”


Evaluation of Electronic Publishing:

In the year of 1455, Johannes Gutenberg invented his famous printing press with movable type. And the first book “Gutenberg 42-line Bible” was produced by Gutenberg’s printing press. The technology was enabled the manufacture of high quality printed document at a fraction of the cost of hand copying. This invention had changed the printing scenario and is considered as the landmark. After a few decades, in 1490, Aldus Manutius founded the Aldine Press in Venice. There were many changes and many printing presses came into existence to start printing documents. Out of them remarkably, Abraham Ortelius produced the first modern atlas – Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1570 and slowly such productions could get the commercial advantages, contributors and associates started earn. It is found that Alexander Pope, translator of the Iliad became the overpaid author in 1720.

The second landmark in this area as found is the production of Wood pulp paper commercially for the first time in 1840. During this period, typesetting was done manually by hand at a rate of about 2000 letters per hour. In 1883, Tolbert Langston invented the first mechanical typesetting machine, called monotype. With monotype, letters were set at 6000 per hour.

In the last century, as it is found, the work of H G Wells had got importance. He wrote ‘World Brain’ in 1938. The World Brain is Wells’ vision of a vast print encyclopedia of all human knowledge whose production company would become a new institution for knowledge and education. In 1945, Vannevar Bush wrote an essay to describe a device called the `memex’. The `memex’ was the size of a desk to store books and other materials on microfilm, and had the ability to link and connect passages among documents. Another important invention in the twentieth century probably was Hypertext.

The term ‘Hypertext’ was coined by Ted Nelson in 1965. Ted Nelson wrote also about his utopian project Xanadu in which all the works of the world are permanently stored in a universally accessible repository. In the same year (1965 AD) Marshall McLuhan, media prophet, predicted the coming impact and potential profit of the merging of electronic technology and books, as by that time the digital computer came into existence already, and emergence of computer technology with the printing was started in the form of word processing. In 1968, Alan Kay created a cardboard model of the Dynabook – a computer with a million-pixel screen. This was basically a visionary device, which Kay claimed as something more like super-paper. In 1971, the project `Gutenberg’ started to create a free Computer classics Library at the University of Illinois with the leadership of Michael Hart after he wrote ‘Declaration of Independence’. At the end of 2001, the Gutenberg collection has crossed the 10000 titles. In 1979, Doug Adams released the popular science fiction novel, `The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, in which protagonist Ford Perfect researches the galaxy for a vast electronic book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide. The Random House Electronic Thesaurus is arguably the world’s first commercially available ‘Electronic Book’ (e-Book), which is published in 1981. This is another landmark for today’s e publishing. In 1986, Franklin Electronic Publishers embedded an electronic dictionary in a handheld device, producing the first portable e-Book. Barnes & Noble opened its first superstore in 1990. Sony’s Data Disernan was designed to display CD-ROM books on a 3.5-inch screen in 1991. With the blessings of Internet, e publishing has got new dimension. In 1995, began selling print books on the web. In 2000, availability of Microsoft Reader with clear type launched a new era of reading on screen. Recently, the map-book becomes an e-Book when the Library of Congress American Memory Project digitized the seventy maps and presented them on the web!

Categories of E-Publishing:

Electronic publishing can be categorized into two ways.

  1. Off- line
  2. On- line

In off-line publishing information is entirely passes into the possession of the purchaser or user, who can access it an unlimited number of times without any further change. For example computer software or reference material on compact disc in a physically tangible and transportable form. In can be accessed repeatedly using an electronic reader like a personal computer or compact disc player.

In on-line publishing, the information remains in a publisher controlled computer, usually accessible only on payment of fee for each use. Unlike off-line publishing on-line publishing can be continuously updated, managed and refined. In off-line publishing the publisher has no way to quickly update the database. So new editions or supplements must be periodically distributed to each user.


Types of E-Publishing:

  1. E-Journal.
  2. E-Book.
  3. E-Database.
  4. E-Thesis and dissertation.
  5. E-Archive and back file.
  6. Bulletin boards.
  7. Multimedia resources etc.

Advantages of E-Publishing:

Following are the main of e publishing:

  1. Maintenance of updated information: Data can maintain aptitude so that buyer will be able to purchase the latest version of publication.
  2. On demand publishing: The individual subscribers can be provided with only those documents, which match their profile, and can be charged accordingly. ‘On demand publishing’ also allows retrospective searching and SDI.
  3. Information retrieval Just in time: Library and Information Centers does not ‘buy publication’ to access the information in it, they can have online access to the E Journals and download or print the required material. EP provides aids for connectivity, audio visualization customizability, creation and revision of documents, interactivity and rapid information retrieval.
  4. Speed: Publication of E Journals saves the turn-around time, i.e., the time lag in submission, referring, vision, editing, composing, printing, binding, and forwarding, which is eliminated by using computer and communication networks. This enhances timely publication and is suitable to the letters-type journals where rapid communication is of utmost importance. This leads to further reducing the gap between the author and the end-user.
  5. Distribution: The major advantages of e journals are their global distribution, their hyperlinks, and the ability to access from different sites and ability to search.
  6. Retrieval: There are a good number of search engines available to access and retrieve the appropriate articles. Most of the publishers of E journals are providing keywords, author search, terms reducing the role of additional indexing and abstracting.
  7. Multiple Accesses: Most of the publishers of E journals are coming up with site license policy providing multiple accesses and access through the campus LAN.
  8. Manageability: Electronic information can easily be managed be managed by adding book-marks and personal notes to he sites or by downloading it of private files or databases for copying and editing.


Disadvantages of Electronic Publishing:

Some of the disadvantages of e publishing are as follows:

  1. High initial cost: E Publishing includes high initial costs to the publishers as well as L & Information Centers have to invest before benefits are expected.
  2. Incompatible Hardware and Software: The non-compatibility of hardware due to the absence of common standards, and the usage of different retrieval software by different publishers. The acceptance of E journals depends upon the user-friendly retrieval software.
  3. Weak Infrastructure of Computer and communication Network: As a prerequisite, E Publishing products necessitate the proper availability of a computer and communication network to the subscriber.
  4. Gap between Developed and Developing Countries: the gaps between developed and developing countries make the E publishing an elitist technology.
  5. In readability: E Journal may take some time to percolate down to the reader label mainly due to the problem of displaying page images conveniently on computer screen. For entire page to be accommodated the size of the image has to be reduced and the low resolution makes it difficult to read.
  6. Inconvenient to use: Ease of use i.e., reading at a convenient time and place, is not possible with EPs.
  7. Delay in release: In many instances, when the publication is issued in both printed and electronic form, the electronic version is released after a gap of three to four weeks.
  8. User training: In many instances, when the publication is issued in both printed and electronic form for using the electronic version user training is considered to be very essential as all the users are not well familiar with electronic form of it.


Electronic Publishing and its Role in Libraries:

Definition of a library is an institution that selects, acquire, organize, and provide access to record knowledge. This is obviously a very broad definition, but both the collecting ad organizing aspect of librarianship is threatened by electronic publishing.

When it becomes cheaper to offer patrons access to material that is stored electronic ally than on paper, then electronic access will rapidly become accepted, in spite of many limitations it has. One of the primary characteristics of scholarly publishing is that he use of any particular article is fairly low, low enough that it will be probably cheaper to store the material at central sites rather than at each library. In spite of being in electronic form, the amount of material that a typical library acquires in paper form is still a substantial burden. This will push libraries into using central repositories to handle electronic publications is so easy and fast, that the lack of local storage should not be a problem to the users, hardly noticeable, in fact if the system is properly constructed.


Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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