With the advent of the digital age, independent publishing took on a new shape. There were numerous advantages to the non-physical form, including a shorter timeframes, a more interconnected environment for distant writers, and the usage of various new media.
As part of the third day of INDIEPUBCON 2021, independent writers and publishers convened to discuss the transition from indie writing to publishing, and the rise of the digital space in indie.
“The Evolution of Indie Publishing: From Physical to Digital Spaces” was a recorded discussion that was streamed via TIPC-PH’s Facebook Page and YouTube channel last Sunday, November 21. This online conference covered the benefits of independent publishing as well as how communities may be imitated and altered to improve the Philippine literary scene.
For the second part of the overall discussion, Maria Kristelle Jimenez touched on the current condition of digital publishing and the rise of digital publications in the Philippines. Together with Vox Populi PH’s Micah Corin A. Salonoy and Elisha Lilith S. Aguinaldo, they explored contemporary youth literature’s milieu. Jay-ar G. Paloma and Marius D. Carlos, Jr. facilitated the 45-minute session.
Evolution of Digital Spaces through Youth Publication
The transition of the digital publishing space started with the digital age and the proliferation of the internet. We can now publish words online. With the advent of digital publishing, the definition of literature became more varied. With traditional publishing, the definition of literature is only print. Now, we have podcasts, videos and audiobooks. It gives us more publishers more creativity and more freedom.
On Digital Humanities
The importance of digital publishing’s contribution to the overall state of digital humanities is understated. According to Maria Kristelle Jimenez, Rebo Press founder, “We lack the resources to create physical events due to the pandemic. With the rise of technological advancements, we need to expand our digital humanities side so we can keep up with traditional publishing. While Rebo Press started as a physical firm, it slowly adapted to the needs of consumers and the need to provide literature to its readers.” This is echoed by moderator Marius Carlos Jr., who gave a more in-depth explanation of digital humanities:
“Digital humanities is a defining feature of the time. The things we consume online are also subject to this study. Digital humanities is the organic growth and systematic studies of these online. We not only look at the content and form, but also the format. It can be published anywhere and in many different forms depending sa tools na ginagamit. The common thread is it is all mediated by technology. Independent publishing creates different avenues for digital humanities.”
Vox Senior Contributor Elisha Aguinaldo also opines the same: “Digital humanities is the digitalization of traditional humanities. It is like the digitization of what we can see in a library: archives, mga journal at libro. Importante ito dahil mas mare-recognize tayo kapag sa digital tayo mag-publish. Mas madami makakabasa sa isang literary piece.”
Meanwhile, According to Vox Features Editor, Micah Salonoy states that digital humanities actually helps in the free proliferation of knowledge, especially when it comes to research:
“I was under the special sciences curriculum and we needed to research. We relied a lot on journals and articles we see on the internet. We eventually got an idea where to find free journals. I am part of the first batch that graduated online because of the pandemic, so it is a big help especially since we cannot get books in the physical library.”
The demarcation of physical and digital publishing has its own advantages and disadvantages. According to Micah: “When I got to Vox [Populi PH], I’m no longer in physical publishing. The biggest shift and adjustment is there is a wider audience. For instance, as compared to campus journalism that can only be read in school and whose topics only revolve about the school, digital publishing is much more open to different topics and a different environment.” Vox Senior Contributor Elisha Aguinaldo also suggests the same:
“Hindi po ako ganoon ka-experienced sa physical publishing, and as compared to digital, mas matagal yung process. Now sa digital, mas mabilis. I can upload sa internet and mababasa ko siya agad. Mas madali po in a way yung digital publishing kasi mas madali siya i-revise and publish. However, may disadvantages din siya kasi kapag lagi akong nasa screen, mas nali-limit yung nakikita ko at pwede kong isulat as compared kapag lumalabas.”
Melding physical and digital spaces
Ultimately, the future of indie publishing is the coexistence of the physical and digital spaces. When asked about the possibility of this happening soon, Kristelle was not too optimistic. “We still have a long way to go with digitalization and accessibility of text. The Filipinos are the most engaged with social media but we are also the ones with the poorest internet connection. To make readings more accessible, we need to reintroduce reading. Nagkakaroon agad ng barrier, tulad ng gatekeeping, copyrighting; nalilimitahan nito ang paglaganap ng teksto. Kailangan natin magkaroon ng mas mainam na distribution. Physical and digital humanities must combine and work together to provide opportunities for people in general.
Kristelle however championed that she has so far succeeded in creating this mixed space with founding both Rebo Press and Vox Populi PH. “Rebo Press and Vox Populi PH work together in combining the physical and digital space. Hopefully, maipasa ang model na ito sa other communities and other schools. Kaunti lang tayong manunulat, marami tayo kailangang pagsilbihang mambabasa, at kung mas mapapalawig pa natin ang espasyo, it will help us na mapabuti ang sistema at maibalik ang kultura ng pagbabasa at pag-iisip ng mga Pilipino.”
Finally, when asked about what advice she has for those in traditional physical publishing who want to delve into the world of digital publishing, Kristelle mentioned that they need to be prepared for new learning and gaining completely new skills. “Your writing will go places when you post online. But if it is not doable for you, especially with the necessity of maintaining and creating platforms like blogs, using WordPress and social media accounts, the best thing is to submit to different publications. You just need to understand that publications also have different standards. If you don’t want to compromise with this, you will need to create your own space, but you will need to shoulder it on your own.”
All in all, the key takeaways for the discussion is that digital publishing evolved from the rise of the internet and online word processing. Digital and physical publishing work together and serve different functions. Lastly, digital publishing space is here to stay, and as writers and publishers, evolving in the community means embracing these developments.