Publishing: Audience-driven or Author-driven Activity?

By Idris Katib & Ajayi Oladele

Whether publishing should be audience-driven (that is, serving asocial responsibility function) or author-driven (that is, a business venture or incentive) is a matter of context or perspective from individual's analysis. Hence, we argue from both sides of the coins.

First of all, we must distinguish publishing from printing as these two have been misconstrued to mean the same. Though inextricably intertwined,the two are not the same, as a matter of professionalism. One seems to be the mother of the other as the other is only a fragment of the whole process.

While printing refers to the actual publication of books and other literature materials especially in hard copy forms, publishing transcends mere printing. It involves the conception of what to publish, research and gathering of materials to be published,consulting the editor and proof- readers of the materials to be published, getting the funds, advertising/reviewing the material, marketing of the published materials and sharing of profits between the publisher and the author.

"Publishing is the process of production and [dissemination] of literature, music or information— the activity of making information available to the general public. In some cases, authors may be their own publishers, meaning, originators and developers of media and publishing content also provide to deliver and display the content for the same.

Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works such as books (the "book trade") and newspapers. With the advent of digital information systems and the Internet the scope of publishing has expanded to include electronic resources, such as the electronic versions of books and periodicals, as well as micro publishing, electronic publishing, blogs, video game publishers and the like.

Publishing includes the stages of the development, acquisition, copy editing, graphic design, production – printing and its electronic publishing|electronic equivalents, and marketing and distribution of newspapers, magazines, books, literary works, musical composition|musical works, software and other works dealing with information, including the electronic media."

Publishing should, as a matter of economic empowerment, be author/publisher-driven since the publishing materials constitute an intellectual property of the author and at the same time where the publisher has put in so much energy and financial resources in getting the material published. This especially applies to traditional publishers. Digital publishers also provides logistics in this regard. So, they must real where they sow.

The author already is contributing to social development through their writing by dishing out information borne out of research and experience to mirror the society. It is pretty difficult for authors to give away their right of material ownership all in the name of social responsibilty. If they gullibly accept that publishing should only be a matter of social service, chances are that pirates will feed on their sweat after all.

Another argument is that since book publishing is a career for both the publisher and the author, it should be a business venture whereby there should be, legally,some financial rewards for their toil, energy, sweat and contributions to educate, entertain and inform the society. It should be a give-and-take venture between the author and the audience. The audience or readers or buyers, viewers or subscribers--whatever the appellation attached--should also give back values in form of financial rewards, that is, returns on sales of the intellectual property. So many people around the works get their daily bread from publishing.

However, it can also be argued that publishing should rather be an audience-driven activity since the audience largely determine what to buy , read, view or subscribe to especially in this age of digital publishing.

Therefore, publishing should not selfishly be a matter of business venture. Rather it should be used to service the needs of the society positively. Just like the press or media, publishing should earn a social responsibility to the people. It should be used to change the society from the plane of conflict to the plane of peace and resolution. It should seek to pass across to the audience good social values.

Another contention is that publishers and authors should not see publishing as mere instrument of exploiting the audience. Since mass communication is to right the wrong of the society, publishers and authors should be wary of what they are feeding the public with since most of the negative vices, for instance among our youths, are copied from published materials--musicals, magazines, websites and the rest of them.

*Katib and Ajayi wrote from Crescent University,Abeokuta

Okunnu, Ganiyu (2013) Class Notes on New Techniques and Issues in Book Publishing, Department of Mass Communication, Crescent University, Abeokuta Soop Announces Author-driven Book Publishing

Wikipedia (2013) Free Online Encyclopeadia

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