Allaying my fears about digital publishing

Anna Cunnane has just begun the MA in Publishing Studies program at University College London. In her spare time she enjoys reading, the theatre and keeping up with the publishing industry on her blog. She can be found on twitter as @MollyBloom1989.

 Digital has recently become a buzzword in the publishing world, but for somebody taking their first steps into the industry, it is sometimes tricky to work out exactly what the implications of this much talked about transition are. It is often tempting to become concerned about the future and to give too much credence to those who would proclaim the printed book dead.

Like many who love reading, I am very much attached to the physical book and the way each one looks, feels and even smells. A book can be both stimulating and comforting and I only have to take a look at the battered titles on my own bookshelves at home to feel my chest swelling with pride at my hard won collection. I admit then that I have previously viewed digital editions with suspicion. Will the use of multimedia detract from the impact of the narrative I wondered? And will the importance placed on traditional storytelling decline as digital threatens to become the default publishing format?

My bookshelf at home

It turns out I needn’t have worried. In my week interning at Hot Key Books, I  wasn’t prepared to be so excited by their use of interactive digital editions to enhance their physical list, and to redefine what we think of as a book.

The mix of video, audio, text and images in the Maggot Moon Multi-Touch means that the story literally leaps of the page, or in this case out of the screen! Like the best interactive books, the additions to the text found in this edition do not disrupt the flow of the story; their content links thematically to the original narrative to ensure a seamless reading experience. The multi-touch edition stays true to the spirit of the book but also expands the reading experience beyond the scope of the printed word. This product proves that high quality children’s and young adult’s books with strong characters, compelling plots and beautiful design can shine in any format.

The warmth and the passion for great stories I have witnessed at Hot Key has made me even more excited about working in publishing. I look forward to keeping up with what they do next, and I am sure that what I have learned about digital publishing during my time at Hot Key will continue to inspire me in my reading.


One response to “Allaying my fears about digital publishing

  1. Digital verses physical? This is a quandry. What are the best and worst aspects of both? A digital watch tells you the time and not much more. How much time is it to wait for say a train to arrive. At a glance of a non digital watch it is ten minutes to wait, clear and absolute. The position of the hands of the timepiece says it all. You are early, late or on time. Not so with the precise information of a digital watch. Time is now and is always now.
    A physical book on the first turn of the first page shows you that time doesen’t mean a thing. You read at your own pace, the book tells you by the amount of thickness before or after your bookmark, where you are in the time of the book reading process. Paper ages, yellows, browns then…
    Digital formats are timeless, ageless, clinical and dare I say it imortal. But do they reflect time and the human state? You decide.

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