What is Publishing – an Art or Science?

Is publishing an art, or science? Kalpana Sharma gives her thoughts on how these two forms apply to the industry and formulates her own conclusion.

When we produce the information in a format and make it available to the consumers, we define it as publishing or producing books.

Publishing is a form of communication, where we produce information in a way such that it can be acknowledged and appreciated by the general public. Many people believe that publishing is an art and others are of the opinion that publishing is a science. From my perspective, ‘Publishing’ is an art.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the study of the natural world and its biological and physical processes through observation, identification and experimentation is science. In biological and physical processes, chemical reactions can occur which transforms one product into another.

If we translate this to publishing, after copy-editing and proofreading, physical appearances can be changed but fundamental data rarely does. In other words, physical appearances evolve in terms of format, typesetting, font size, cover design and spine design.

In art, wherever you take the point of the pencil, it creates a shape. For me, publishing is similar to this. During production, the intrinsic information is changed only infrequently (for if it does, it will be expensive!), but the way it looks does alter. This means, that it can turn in various directions, like an art. Publishing is therefore an invisible art that attracts and persuades customers to buy its products. Publishing thus equates to creativity, the more creative you are, the more success you may have in transmitting your message to customers.

I believe that there are two types of respondents to publishing products. The first are those who judge the contents at the same time as the cover. The second judge purely by physical appearance. Based on a recent survey, the majority of the people are in this latter category. The more attractive and interesting a cover is, therefore, the higher the probability of its reaching potential customers. Art and science thus need to join with creativity to ensure future publishing product successes.

Originally posted on Kalpana’s personal blog.

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Kalpana is currently a student on the MA Publishing course at Anglia Ruskin University. She currently works as a teaching assistant and hopes to make a career in publishing sector, particularly in rights.