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Presentation Details


Beyond Gatekeeping: Publishing in an Era of Information Overload

Jenny Lee.

The present wave of technological change holds both promise and peril for book publishing. In principle, digitisation and near-instantaneous communication have the potential to circumvent some of the industry's most persistent problems: its high level of risk, the geographical dispersion of its markets, and the tendency for outlays on materials and distribution to swamp the rewards for intellectual and creative work.

At the same time, it is understandable that many publishers are wary about the implications of the new communications technologies. Traditionally, the book publishing industry drew much of its authority from its strategic position as gatekeeper to the public sphere, but the new electronic media and digital publishing systems have weakened this monopolistic power. In an era of information overload, the challenge is less to publish works than to have them bought and read by a public that is increasingly selective, well informed and sceptical of hype.

One obvious strategy for gaining notice in this newly crowded public sphere is to pay closer attention to the book publishing industry's other main source of authority: the editorial and production protocols through which it achieved its high standards of textual accuracy and visual appeal. Many of these established procedures are readily adapted to the new technologies, which offer unprecedented opportunities for constructive collaboration between authors, editors and designers without the error-prone double handling that bedevils manual processes. Here, editors in particular have a crucial role to play in managing the process of transmission from creator to consumer and ensuring that the work is published in a form that meets the needs of both.


Jenny Lee  (Australia)
Senior Lecturer
English Department
University of Melbourne

  • New Communications Technologies
  • Gate Keeper
  • Book Publishing Industry
  • Editorial and Production Protocols

(30 min Conference Paper, English)