The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Navigating the Digital vs. Print Publishing “Debate”

In the world of pets, the two major players are cats and dogs. Some of us refer to ourselves as cat lovers, some as dog lovers, and there are even some that walk both sides of the line, which is totally acceptable. And yes, it would be remiss if we didn’t report that there are even folks that don’t care for any of the aforementioned descriptions.

In the world of publishing, the two major players that have been debated at great lengths in recent times are digital and print.

Some of us refer to ourselves as digital consumers. Like a cat, digital publications are seemingly independent entities. They don’t need much in the way of care, and they’re there when you’re ready for them in an instant. If you’re not in need, they’re just as happy hanging out tableside, taking up little space, and making little noise. Digital publications, in many ways, are easier, and cheaper to obtain. If you’ve got one, you’ve likely got two or more, as merchants are constantly waving “sale” flags. In some cases they’re virtually giving ‘em away.

Some of us refer to ourselves as print consumers. Like a dog, the print publication generally takes up a bit more space. You’re more apt to trip over them. Wherever you’re at in a room, they’re there staring back at you, yearning to be picked up. They don’t want to be banished to the book shelf, where they’re doomed to collect dust and not bask in the glory of being touched by their owner. Fact is, they demand far more care than that of their counterpart, and investing in a book takes a bit more work at the outset.

Of course, there are some of us that appreciate the benefits and features of both digital and print publications. And furthermore, there are even folks that don’t like reading at all. To each their own…

No matter what category you fall into, the truth can be boiled down into simple terms (and without any debate whatsoever): There is no right and/or wrong.

The importance of this notion for publishers is that you must pay attention to, and focus on “all of the above,” which many have been working to achieve for quite some time now (this is not “new” news by any means, and if it is, you’ve been spending a bit too much time walking the dog).

eBook architect (and guru) Joshua Tallent summed it up best during his presentation at this year’s Firebrand Community Conference (#Fire2012). He claimed that no matter the track – digital or print – the end result is merely a container. The container is either a bunch of pages bound together with glue, or an ePub file. Simple as that.

For publishers, it’s important to think of yourself as not merely a book publisher, but as a content publisher. Content, as they say, is king. Your audience is filled with folks that walk on both sides of the line (and even on it), and thus, it’s imperative to the lifeblood of your organization that they’re all equally accounted for and taken seriously.

For readers, there are many exciting developments in the world of publishing, and in the way you consume content. The idea that you can cross back and forth between formats and pick up where you left off is a convenience and a revelation that is worth looking into. The future, as it stands now, is an intriguing study with an uncertain, but exciting landscape. It’s okay if you’re not willing to walk both sides of the line. It’s just an option. And whether you’re a cat lover, or a dog lover (or both), options are good. We can all agree on that. Oh, and if you leave a dog and a cat in room together for long enough, they’ll eventually get along (right?)

The bottom line is, all of this boils down to content, or the personality of an entity that will either make or break a story and whatever “container” it’s presented in. The truth about cats and dogs is; truth is in the eye of the beholder. In truth there may exist variety. In variety the point is not found in debate; it’s found in executing both sides of the coin effectively. Adapting to this variety and rewriting a bit of your own story in the process should be considered a fruitful and engaging endeavor. The story (on all levels), and that quest for truth, is, quite frankly, all that matters.

How are you managing your digital vs. print initiatives?

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