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Current Issues within the Digital Print Industry

The digital print industry is currently addressing problems with accessibility, functionality, and availability of works within the medium. Movements towards global standardization are being made. Following is a list of the most prevalent issues and an explanation of their relevance to the technical community.

Digital print standardization

The following features define the structure and abilities necessary within the digital print medium:

  • Multi-platform

  • Multi-media and interactive functionality (annotations, highlighting, bookmarking, searching, copy/paste function, dictionary and other linguistic resources)

  • Freely accessible to all public regardless of operating system, software, or vendor

  • Proper structure and internal formatting (including high typographic quality)

  • Global/international adaptability (language)

Levels of public access

With the growing genre of digital print, companies must decide how accessible and available to the public their texts will be. The three main levels of public access to online information are:

Closed

  • Membership or payment required to access any digital print material within a website

  • Login name and password given to individuals

Progressive

  • Initial summary or limited amount of an article is viewable to the public

  • Membership or payment is required to view full text

Open

  • Free and available access of full text digital print materials for general public

Citations/ fair use

A chief concern among authors and publishers is digital text security, preventing illegal duplication (pirating) of their publication. The following are organizations and efforts tasked with regulating the distribution of digital print information:

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

  • Prevents copies and backups of digital texts being created and distributed illegally.

  • Oversees lending of digital print media. For example, eBooks do not degrade or wear out as printed texts do. To maintain a long-term profit similar to that of printed texts, libraries' rights to a text are limited to a specific amount of years, after which they are required to reorder the digital copy, just as they would a printed copy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • This system, created by the International DOI Foundation (IDF), allows registration of online documents, providing each with a numeric identifier for easy identification and citation purposes.

  • A DOI works similarly to a copyright, identifying the owner of intellectual property.

Public and reader concerns

Below are major concerns of the general public that currently exist and are being addressed within the digital print medium.

Digital Publications and Health

  • Poor type settings and backlit screens may cause eyestrain.

  • Many individuals still prefer to read texts on paper because the static position of some computer screens can cause ergonomic discomfort. This issue is becoming less of a deterrent with the distribution of handheld reading devices.

Limitations for Libraries

  • Libraries must currently obtain and offer digital texts in multiple file formats to serve the needs of customers using various digital reading platforms, which is both time consuming and more expensive. In the event that they are unable to provide all digital text formats, libraries must choose which to support, potentially alienating specific readers.

  • Digital text databases must be accessible and user-oriented, requiring constant development and upkeep.

  • A separate organizational system is required for texts in digital format, which differs from that of printed works. Librarians must understand both systems.

  • Digital file formats offer no advantage when presenting photographed manuscripts or other files preserved in a static form of documentation.

  • Inter-library loan of eBooks is currently impossible due to the DRM.

Entry by Storm B. Stuart