Ugly Ducklings to Beautiful Swans: Fairy Tales in Publishing and Rebranding
by Jamie Henthorn — Old Dominion University
October 16, 2012 – 08:14
This month, the front page focuses on fairy tales. In the first half of the month, we consider why fairy tales have become so popular, whether it is a fad or touches on some cultural vein. Thinking more broadly, the second part of the month addresses fairy tales and digital publishing.
Discussions around digital publishing, especially of ebooks, have been going on for some time now. Several years ago, stories of authors successfully self publishing ebooks were regularly circulated. Epublishing quickly became its own kind of fairy tale: the book that no publishing house wanted, for whatever reason, that is ultimately published in ebook form. After being purchased and loved by thousands, the book is picked up by a print distributer. A digital Cinderella story. Such a story can be found here.
Academia has its own hopes coming out of this question of digital publishing. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick argues on MediaCommons, scholarly publishing continues to be both time consuming and expensive, for good reasons. In addition to the cost of printing, creating perfect documents takes review and revision, which cost money in man hours. The amount of work needed to go into academic publishing has not changed, but the amount of public funding coming to journals has. With the expense of print, digital publishing seems like the saving prince in some fairy tale. Digital texts can be published at a lower cost with fewer considerations on space. As a result, several projects have been working to bring digital publishing to academia. One such project, Anvil Academic, is launching this month, and was recently highlighted in The Chronicle. Digital publishing has yet to become the standard in academia, but projects like Anvil hope to change that.
There are several projects that have already been working in the field of digital publishing. MediaCommons has been working for years on the project of creating digital born texts. One of the questions that so often comes up in the publishing of ebooks and online academic publishing is the question of thorough editing. MediaCommons launched MediaCommons Press, a project that presents a book for open review. So far, the project has had two books posted for peer review. In conjunction with this project is a study on open review editing, MediaCommons and NYU Press are in the middle of a year study on the outcomes of open review. This has resulted in a white paper on the study of the subject that is, naturally, open to peer review. One key consideration for this discussion is the amount of labor required for this kind of review by many individuals and how this fits in more traditional review processes. Evolving also are questions of defining the intentions and successes of open review.
Linked to digital publishing is the idea of rebranding. Rebranding is used for many reasons, but often shows a shift in organizational focus. The level of success of a rebranding project can make or break an organization. It occasionally works to create something completely new. Considering one company’s rebranding process will better highlight this process.
In 2010, In Media Res had a note on the the rebranding of Discovery Kids content on a new channel known as The Hub. This rebranded channel was the marriage of Discovery Kids and Hasbro and is Discovery’s attempt to compete in the children’s television market, to show its perceived duck to be a true swan. One of the more popular shows on the Hub is My LIttle Ponies: Friendship is Magic, a decidedly feminist remake of a line of fantastical toys and shows geared towards young girls. As In Media Res points out, the show is also well known for the unexpectedly large and vocal young male audience. Invited to write for the front page, Kyle Kontour presents an article on how Hasbro and The Hub have embraced this audience and managed the show to brand it for two separate audiences, including separate commercials and product lines.
MediaCommons is currently working through its own rebranding. This new front page is intended to put a face on the content of MediaCommons’ many projects. The goal is to show MediaCommons’ content and format as dynamic, up to date, and interconnected. This rebranding also includes a new editing team, located at Old Dominion University, to love and develop this space. While not expecting or needing magical transformation, we hope that the front page will highlight the connections within MediaCommons and raise awareness of issues in digital humanities and digital publishing.
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. “Public Responsibility, Public Access.” MediaCommons. September 17, 2012. http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/content/public-responsibility-public-access
Garrison, Lindsay H. “(Re)Claiming Space in the Kids Cable Game: Discovery, Hasbro, and the Hub.” In Media Res. MediaCommons. October 26, 2010. http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/imr/2010/10/26/reclaiming-space-kids-cable-game-discovery-hasbro-and-hub
Koh, Adeline. “A Digital Solution to Academic Publishing.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. September 24, 2012.
Kontour, Kyle. “Learning to Love and Tolerate the Bronies: What the Brony Phenomenon Can Teach us About a New Era In Participatory Culture.” MediaCommons. October 15, 2012. http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/content/learning-love-and-tolerate-bronies-what-brony-phenomenon-can-teach-us-about-new-era-particip
“Open Review” MediaCommons Press. MediaCommons. June 2012. http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/mcpress/open-review/
Ward, Rachel Mizsei. “The Guy Watching is How Old?” In Media Res. MediaCommons. January 30 2012. http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/imr/2012/01/30/guy-watching-how-old
Wu, Laura Pepper. “A Little Publishing Fairytale. Today is a Good Day.” 30 Day Books. March 1, 2012.