Publishing and its Related Issues part 2: More about publishing

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You can read part1 from Issue7: Publishing and its Related Issues

Abdolhossein Azarang [Writer and researcher; Member of the Great Islamic Encyclopedia]: 

This apparently simple question has faced very extensive and various answers in the modern world. Historically, when the publishing world only was limited to the paper-form publishing, it was easier to answer the question, but now, when every day the range of publishing industry is growing more, more ways and tools are appeared, its applications, users and as a result its influence circle are increasing, so this question can be categorized as one of the most challenging questions of our time. Now, let me see is it possible to analyze the question and find a convincing answer for it. What is publishing? Is it a science or industry? Is a profession, business, trade or a nonprofessional activity? Is it a social and economic activity or a cultural one? Is it a struggle and effort in favor of the society’s prosperity and the science and culture’s development, or is a harmful thing for the mankind, but a profitable thing for people who just care about themselves no one else? Truly, in which category can put the publishing? Publishing is not science, because it does not develop a new knowledge, although it plays a key role in introducing and publishing all new sciences. Some literatures have pointed to it as “publishing sciences”, others have denied this term and its application, and instead they have

preferred “publishing studies”. There are also literatures which consider publishing studies as a subset of “book studies”. Anyway, in recent years several universities have designed the PhD course for the publishing studies major and some students have already graduated from these universities in the new major. The “publishing studies” is an extensive field of study whose consisting elements are increasing continuously. Culture, economics, sociology, politics, urban anthropology, commerce, technology, communications, society’s needs to recognize, know, be informed, entertain and enjoy reading are mingle to each other in this field and make a combination which is not the specialized subject of any of them; it is a very complicated mixture, influenced by many factors in different society and takes various form for differences in conditions and situations. The “Publishing Studies” also deals with certain aspects such as occupation, skills and activity whose special product is “Publishing Material”. As a sellable product, it can find its own markets, so inevitably it is subject to the economic demand and supply rules and is categorized under the emblem distributable, advertisable, exchangeable economic goods. In other words, since publishing area produces a sort of cultural product which can be sold and consumed, so it is an economic activity; however, it cannot be considered as an exclusively economic activity, because some non-economic aspects play key roles there which will be explained later in this article. To perform and keep its activities, Publishing uses various ways, tools, forces, factors and strategies. None of them are exactly similar in the different societies. Their differences and their reasons of differences are of subjects of case studies and comparative studies, so it is another theme in the publishing studies area. The Publishing Studies uses all knowledge and sciences which are used to analyze the combined components of the “Publishing Studies”, hence to be informed about them is necessary. Communication sciences and media studies, audience studies, knowledge and information sciences, bibliography, economics, commerce and management, statistics, accounting and warehousing, sociology, ethnology, ethnography, computers and electronics and some other sciences are among them. They are among sciences whose findings and achievements are necessary for the publishing studies and it uses their results directly. If any of these sciences experiences a sort of change, the publishing will change too. For instance, if new information is gained about a certain social group or a certain ethnicity, it would affect the audiences of the publishing, thus, as quality of a group of audiences is changes, then the type of publishing product will be changed, as well. If a new media is developed, like USB port, which came to the market after DVDs, CDs and floppies, it will immediately affect the publishing, because a new media has become available for publishing which may bring about a sensible change in the transmission capacities. If a new technique is invented in the warehousing, the paper form publishing warehouse would be influenced. In a nutshell, all of these are among the important issues of the Publishing Studies field. Is publishing a sort of arts? No, publishing

is a pure art; it means that you cannot consider the publishing in the field of arts along with other arts. However, maybe some products of publishing area are designed and prepared so artistically which can be categorized as an artistic work. For instance, in printing and publishing Baysonghori Shahnameh, a book which was published many years ago in Tehran and many artists were involved with the production of it, certain arts and techniques have been used, as when you see it, you may wonder you are watching a museum artifact. Without doubt, this artistic publishing work is an example of how the artistic talent can be used in the publishing field. Besides taking advantage of it’s certain techniques, publishing pays attention to fancy and aesthetical aspects, graphical arts, arts and techniques related to colorology, binding, cover designing. Some audiences and customers of publishing products only pay attention to the artistic aspects of works, but others may consider these aspects along with other aspects. Thus, there are a set of works in which artistic considerations are covered in compilation, printing and publishing them. Even the simple books somehow take advantage of the artistic factor. The practical experience shows that customers prefer works from which they can feel the smell of arts. Human being’s nature inclines to arts. Publishers who recognize and meet this natural desire of mankind, are those who usually publish artistic works. Hence, the artistic aspect in publishing is another field which must be considered.

(To be continued…..)

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