In Praise of Online Journals

How long will print media last now that it is faced with the "imminent threat" of online publications?

Libraries all around the world are becoming digitalized, print journals are folding from lack of readership but online journals are sprouting up like weeds, and even mega companies like Sony and Amazon are offering reading device like Kindle and the Sony Reader for folks interested in going completely paperless.

Print media will always hold a special place in our hearts - there's nothing like holding a finely made trade book, chapbook or magazine - but the future of the publishing world increasingly seems to be resting in the hands of upstart online or electronic media. Unfortunately, those that refuse to adapt and enter into the digital age (print journals without an online presence, for instance) will ultimately dwindle and disappear.

From The Poetry Foundation:

About a month ago, the National Book Critics Circle sponsored a panel on the demise of the print journal and the rise of the online journal. Actually, it was a little more complex than that, but the gist of the conversation was this: that libraries and other institutions with diminishing budgets were cutting back on (or eliminating altogether) their literary journal subscriptions, and coupled with the popularity of webzines and other forms of online sites dedicated to publishing contemporary literary works, it seems that the nails of the print journal’s coffin have been inevitably secured.

Panelists bantered back and forth about the benefits and detriments of both sides of the issue, engaging matters of environmentalism (hey, let’s save paper!), to technological literacy (we’re in the digital age, get used to it!), to space limitations (where are we going to keep and store all of these things anyway?), to the preservation of the reader-text intimacy (we can’t hold a computer the way we can hold a book!).

In the end, it came down to the language of economics: funding and supply-and-demand. If less people are buying them, then less will be printed or supported by grants. If less people are demanding to see them in libraries, then libraries will cease to put them up on display. It seemed like a horrific pre-cursor to another looming threat: the end of the book. Will we eventually relinquish the tangible text in exchange for hypertext? Well, it may seem impossible now, given how sentimental we readers are about holding and owning the physical book, but the truth is we continue to train each other on how to read material on the screen. Isn’t that what you’re doing this very moment?

The fact is that blogs (like this one) and webzines and online journals are actually moving us closer to the day in which entire books will be read on the computer. We actually already do that. Don’t we read our manuscripts like that? Can’t we download entire books from virtual booksellers already?

More here.


john said...

Digitization is the emerging trend in print media and most of the publishers following this trend. Through digitization, publishers can maximize their circulations as well as revenue and this is the best medium for instant reach. I found recently a website called www.pressmart.net which providing the services of digitization and top publisher are using the services of pressmart.net

Greg Santos said...

Thanks for the link, John!