The iPad is fast becoming a publishing platform. It will bring with it a type of gold rush for independent content creators of e-books and interactive books. That’s right, books will be created on the iPad. That will be especially true of fixed-layout coffee table-type books and picture-laden books. We’ll look deeper into that, but first, a look back at what brought us here.
It would be somewhat irreverent to write anything relating to the history of publishing without mentioning Gutenberg. So I’ll give my obligatory, but brief history of the invention of movable type. It leads up to the day when I was old enough to participate in the publishing industry.
Johannes Gutenberg was a German blacksmith who invented movable type (and the printing press) around 1439. His most notable work was the Gutenberg Bible. Obligation paid; you can read more about him and the origins of modern printing technology on his Wiki page.
Book publishing has come a loooong way in my lifetime, a span of over six decades. I recall standing in front of a drawer of individual letters of lead type. The letters were placed in a composing stick, then transferred to a galley, inked, proofed and locked-up using quoins, keys and other hardware in the make-ready process.
I would then stand behind a letterpress that could crush my hand it I didn’t move quickly. Or, I would sit at a linotype machine that could scald the flesh off me if the molten lead splashed out of its magazine.
Publishing was not only hard physical work, but could also be very dangerous. But, it was the technology of the day. We did whatever was necessary to see our ideas printed and presented in a form that others could enjoy and/or learn from.
You can see samples of this technology at Don K. Black Linecasting Service.
Then, later in my career, I recall having to sit at a desk in front of a large computer screen. There, chained to my desk, I would lay out text using software so complex that it shipped in a box with several installation disks and a 400-page manual. That software had a price tax of hundreds of dollars and ran on computers costing thousands.
We are turning the corner on another major advancement in publishing with portable, electronic reading devices. The Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle are the frontrunners in this new, burgeoning industry.
For those of us who view all these changes from a content creators perspective, it’s comforting to know that there are tools being developed by some really smart people. Their coding skills will allow us to publish our work easier, quicker and cheaper on devices we can hold in one hand.
I’ll be reviewing those tools.