John Maxwell and Kathleen Fraser propose that publishing should start on the web in their article “Traversing the Book of MPub: An Agile, Web-first Publishing Model,” published in the Journal of Electronic Publishing. They suggest that contemporary publishing is mainly born digital anyways — rarely does an author write on paper, then undergo a publication process dedicated to preserving the printedness of the written piece. Rather, most authors create digital artifacts, and publishers subject these artifacts to automated, desktop, and online production processes. However, this computer-based work often seeks to replicate the print production practices of another time, while moving steadily away from print forms. As Maxwell and Fraser write, “the choice is whether we will work in a twenty-first-century mode or a twentieth-century mode” (n.p.).
As proof of the validity and effectiveness of a web-first publishing model, Maxwell and Fraser discuss The Book of MPub, a graduate-level project undertaken in 2010 at the Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser U. They explain the value of employing distinct technologies or methods like agile development, content management systems, XHTML, and web-first workflows, and walk through how each was applied in the creation of The Book of MPub. For Maxwell and Fraser, re-visioning the book as web-born rather than translated to the web would open up many more opportunities for publishers, as this approach could introduce a degree of fluidity and dynamism hitherto missing from more traditional conceptions of publishing.
Maxwell, John, and Kathleen Fraser. 2010. “Traversing the Book of MPub: An Agile, Web-first Publishing Model.” Journal of Electronic Publishing 13 (3): n.p. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0013.303?view=text;rgn=main