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E-Publishing: Challenges and Opportunities


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E-publishing is short form of electronic publishing, which refers to production of any work formatted to be read on a computer or by a hand-held device. This is an area that was never conceivable before the advent of the internet, particularly the web.

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E-Publishing: Challenges and Opportunities

  1. 1. E-Publishing: Challenges and Opportunities Presented at the UN/University Librarian’s workshop By Ephraim Mudave Head Librarian, NEGST/Africa International University February 4, 2010
  2. 2. What is e-Publishing? E-publishing is short form of electronic publishing, which refers to production of any work formatted to be read on a computer or by a hand-held device. This is an area that was never conceivable before the advent of the internet, particularly the web.
  3. 3. Products  E-Journals,  E-Books,  E-Texts
  4. 4. Where to buy e-books e-Publishers sites Online retailers (,,, etc)
  5. 5. Players:  Publishers (University and commercial)  Technology firms  Authors  Third Party institutions (libraries)  Users/Consumers
  6. 6. Reading an e-book YOU NEED:  Computers  PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants)  Hand-Held Devices (Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s PRS Reader, Irex, Cybook Opus) NB: Each device requires different formats (html, pdf, pdb, MsLit)
  7. 7. Traditional publishing  Hard copy manuscripts submitted to the publisher (some require digital too)  If accepted, editors send it back with comments to author by mail  For article, it is sent to reviewers who make comments and send back to authors  Author makes changes/corrections and mails it back to publisher  Editors approve copy and send it for printing
  8. 8. E-publishing  Manuscript sent by e-mail to publisher in a word processor  If accepted, it is edited using “Track changes” and sent to reviewers by email  Edited copy e-mailed to the author for correction  Corrected file e-mailed to publisher in word  The electronic file is transferred to the printer in pdf  Internet version of the file is formatted to html or pdf
  9. 9. Advantages of e-publishing  A great encouragement to publish due to low investment by the publisher. This translates to a greater willingness to take on untried/New writers  Faster production –quick communication (reduced publication delay). But no compromise on quality  More open peer review procedures-open dialogue between authors, reviewers and editors. web-based manuscript tracking accessible by the author  Writers have the ability to update text often and easily at virtually no cost.
  10. 10. Advantages con’t…2 They link to other resources that help to complete the message the author wishes to convey. Works with low sales can still be kept due to unlimited archiving as opposed to print that would be removed from shelves. No space constraints – large publications on small gudgets.
  11. 11. Advantages con’t…3 Readers can interact fast with the author Accessible from anywhere at any time to anyone with an internet connection. The ease with which text, images, and graphics are used for scholarly works For authors: It is easy and cheap to submit articles and manuscripts for publication
  12. 12. Disadvantages of E-publishing  Proprietary tools are needed for use and they are too costly  To date, electronic works sell far fewer copies than paper books. Either due to lack of awareness or preference of print copies  Some publishers leave marketing for e-published work to writers to market. If they are not good marketers, however good their works they wont sell. The advantage of people seeing works through bookshop windows is not there
  13. 13. Disadvantages…2  If interested in building credentials, e- published works do not carry the same weight as traditional paper publishers. However, this is changing with time as e-publishing becomes more established.  Piracy . This remains a major concern in the e- publishing industry. It is very easy technically speaking for an e-work to be edited and duplicated without the author and publisher’s permission
  14. 14. Challenges…1  The transition from old to new models will not occur overnight, just as is the case of anything new.  Resistance in certain authoring communities. Seek prestige they have come to associate with old model. Other authors just fear change. Some institutions are unwilling to change from their traditional publishing norms which are used to judge the worth of an author’s work.  High prices for e-products. Prices are not always significantly cheaper, even with the lower production cost. This might be a deterrent to sales. Some publishers offer same as paperback prices
  15. 15. Challenges…2  Infrastructure- mostly technological: the majority world has a long way to go. Know how and economic power  Marketing to the general consumers apart from libraries still wanting.  Finding a unified format and a way to protect the e-book from being pirated  Social: there has existed a non-collaborative culture of scholarship that is not easy to break
  16. 16. Opportunities 1. Everyone has a place to publish, and it is easy to find these places 2. The number of electronic books to commonly used devices is increasing. This is likely to increase the number of those using them. 3. New reading devices are in the works. These provide ease of reading, and multiple other functions as well. 4. Open access and Open peer review possible, ensuring quality and reliability 5. Increased access to the internet in the recent past
  17. 17. Questions to ponder… What changes to policies and laws are required? What skills are and will be needed? Which of today's skills will become obsolete? What will the costs for the new models be? How will the new publishing models be sustained and preserved?
  18. 18. Conclusion The biggest beneficiaries of this model seem to be the consumers and authors with the free exchange of knowledge. E-Publishing is gaining momentum and in my view, sooner than later, it will be as common as the traditional publishing. How are librarians, Publishers and authors responding to this reality? For greater impact and faster scientific progress, authors and publishers should aim to make research easy and quick to access. In this regard, e-publishing could be the way to go.