Print going with the grain of the Web

It is an article of faith for Exact Editions that:

Print works well on the web when it is represented exactly the way it is.

Exact Editions works on the assumption that the web can re-present print perfectly adequately and there are many advantages in having magazines (and books) accessible on the web as exact replicas of the print editions. Actually, buried beneath this ‘article of faith’ is a very deep conviction that print publications are incredibly strong and will survive and prosper as digital editions (oddly enough, many in conventional publishing doubt this).

On the other hand, we do in various ways try to enhance or improve the print editions so they work better as a web resource than would a mere print replica. First, by making the titles individually and collectively searchable. Second, by adding elements of helpful interactivity (clickable contents pages, e-mail addresses, URLs, phone numbers and ISBNs, for example).

For all these reasons, we find it hard to think of digital publishing as being inimical to print publishing, to reading, or indeed to civilisation as we know it. If you want some gloomy hand wringing about the future of print, of fiction and of literacy you can find it here, here and with rather more insight and optimism here.

We have been thinking more about the ways in which print and digital can interact. And it really is a matter of interaction. This is not a market in which digital will simply replace print and paper. Publishers, booksellers and retailers really need to think long and hard about the immense advantages of working with a medium in which print sales can be used to help digital sales, and vice versa. Having a physical bookstore or news kiosk on the street is potentially a great way in which to leverage digital sales. Having a virtual bookstore or kiosque is an amazingly good way in which to leverage sales of the printed book or to garner more print subscriptions for a magazine. Getting the two media flows to work together is the biggest challenge that we face.

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