Should Companies Put Mobile First?

Taking care of mobile readers is more important than putting desktop readers first. That might sound controversial, but according to the mobile-first doctrine, emphasizing mobile readers has many benefits. These include progressive advancement and prioritizing the larger audience. As reading digital media on mobile devices continues to grow in popularity, the mobile-first approach gains further credibility.

The question of what mobile-first publishing is still causes some confusion. Digiday published an article concerning the mobile-first approach in which they asked higher-ups in popular companies what the mobile-first approach is. The president of Buzzfeed stated, “Mobile-first is not enough. Mobile should be all you care about.” Similarly, the president of Business Insider stated, “It means mobile at the expense of other formats, so an experience that’s great on mobile but lousy elsewhere – or not as good elsewhere.” Dow Jones’s head of consumer product said, “Mobile-first is shorthand for saying that the dominant platform for digital media will soon be portable computers.” Not all means of pursuing the mobile-first approach need to be as ruthless as Buzzfeed or Business Insider’s presidents suggest. Progressive advancement lays a path to prioritizing mobile-first publishing without necessarily cutting the high-quality design desktops are known for.

Progressive advancement is a means of approaching digital media and publishing. Companies have to decide how they are going to divide their time when creating content for digital consumption. The question is whether they should focus on developing content primarily for smartphones, or tablets and desktops. Progressive advancement provides a way forward in the mobile-first approach. This method advocates the development of the content for the mobile platform first. Then, take that product and adjust it for tablet and desktop, adding features and editing the content to make the tablet and desktop versions more attractive and unique. So, ultimately, the progressive advancement method is beneficial for tablet and desktop platforms as well as mobile platforms.

The other method of approaching digital media is called “graceful degradation.” It calls for the prioritization of developing digital content for desktop first, then tablet, and finally mobile devices. The product would like spectacular on desktop with plentiful features, but as one continues down the line to mobile, features are lost and one is left with an “afterthought.” Essentially, priority is given to the desktop device, so mobile devices are left with a skeleton of what was before. Graceful degradation may be a great option for those whose consumers are almost exclusively on desktop as that is where focus is placed.

Perhaps the question is why mobile-first is the approach to pursue. The basic answer is that exploring the internet via mobile phone has exploded in popularity. In 2016, mobile internet usage was higher than desktop internet usage. At 51.3%, mobile internet usage was about 3% higher than desktop internet usage with a continuing trend towards mobile internet usage. Smartphone sales were higher than desktop sales as early as 2012. Allconnect published an article with more recent statistics regarding the discussion. As of 2022, mobile phones constituted 60% of web traffic while desktops and tablets only had a total of 39%. Additionally, adults in the United States generally spent over five hours per day on their mobile phone in 2022.

Another aspect of mobile-first publishing that should be considered is that of applications. Applications (apps) have become a normal part of everyday life for many. As of 2021, about 51% of mobile phone users check their apps between 1 to 10 times per day and an additional 25% check their apps between 11-20 times a day. These statistics open a discussion of whether companies should spend the time and resources to develop an app for consumers to use. Depending on the size of the company, the answer is most likely yes. An app where one’s publishing will be viewed is better favored by the public than accessing the content via the device’s browser.

Publishing with a mobile-first approach is becoming more popular, with some new companies strictly operating and publishing on mobile devices. As mobile devices have become more prevalent and efficient, desktop computers are not as necessary and are less convenient in terms of mobility. However, a mobile-first approach does not mean the end of desktops, nor does it mean leaving desktops as an “afterthought” either, but if companies take the progressive advancement approach to the mobile-first doctrine, mobile phones, tablets, and desktops can feature high-quality published content. Mobile-first publishing has multiple definitions and applications in terms of how it is planned out, but putting mobile first will result in putting the majority of one’s consumers first as well.

Romance – Demystifying the Genre’s Digital Dominance

Americans are reading less—unless they’re readers of romantic fiction, at least.

Print sales of romance novels saw exponential growth in 2022 with a 52.4% increase in sales from the year prior. While print books are seeing a spike in popularity amidst a backdrop of literary social media trends such as BookTok, eBook sales trends tell a similar story about consumers of romantic fiction. Although romantic fiction saw a 16% decrease in 2022 eBook sales, the digital units that did sell represented 60%  of total romance books sold that year, highlighting the overall dominance of the genre—particularly its digital dominance.

The grip that the genre has on its readers mystifies many; the loyalty of the fanbase is practically unmatched. The genre’s readership has been a major force behind the big screen adaptations of popular romance novels like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, the latter of which grossed more than $570,000,000 throughout box offices globally. The readership has also been a major force behind the genre’s success in digital publishing.

But the demand for romantic fiction is only partially to credit for its success, particularly in the world of digital publishing.

The Readership

Despite the prevalence of the common “print vs. eBook” preference debate, readers of romantic fiction show unprecedented flexibility that might take many of them out of such debates. In fact, readers of romantic fiction may even prefer eBooks to their traditional predecessors. This is because the habits of the average reader of romantic fiction just happen to complement eBooks….perfectly.

The typical reader of romance will finish a book within just 7 days of starting it, while the average American is not even finishing 2 books within 30 days. Some readers of romantic fiction have reported finishing as many as 5 novels in a single week. The rate at which the readership completes a novel primes the genre well for the world of digital publishing, where the barriers of working through a publishing house and an agent are problems of the past. Authors of romantic fiction are able to set the pace of their releases at their discretion, and alter as they see fit based on collected analytics.

Readers of romantic fiction also display a tendency to be more open-minded when it comes to checking out books by new writers, which also helps explain the genre’s success with a digital format. In fact, at least 50% of romantic fiction readers surveyed answered affirmatively when asked whether or not they’d be interested in reading a novel by a new author, a phenomenon not witnessed by consumers of other genres of literature. Amazon’s online Kindle store speaks to the romance readers’ innate hunger for variety, with hundreds of thousands of new authors available right at their very fingertips without ever having to leave their home.

The Genre

In addition to the reading habits of consumers of romantic fiction, the genre itself has certain characteristics that provide additional insight into the reasons for its digital dominance. Chiefly, its formulaic structure that readers have come to know and love over the decades.

Romance novels most often utilize a three-act structure with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end, but the ending is the most critical part. The hallmark of any romance novel is its Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. This ending is optimistic, meant to evoke positive feelings within the reader after they have watched the novel’s main character go through a series of obstacles within the story’s first or second act. The ending shows readers a win, and that kind of optimism is a large back of what keeps readers coming back for more despite the overall predictability of the plot structure-the desire for the happy ending. This three-part typically also unfolds quickly, as most romance novels are fewer than 100,000 words in total, quite possibly reminding its readers of the earlier fan-fiction days that preceded eBooks.

The Industry’s Response

The digital dominance of eBooks is so prolific that even the largest traditional publisher of romance, Harlequin, which was first founded in 1949 could not ignore it. In 2000, the publishing house created a website where readers and writers of romantic fiction could interact with each other, as well as purchase both print and eBook selections. Seven years later, the publisher would become the first of its kind to release 100% of its new titles in digital format. Seven years later, the traditional publisher would also become the first to form a digital publishing entity, Carina Press. The offshoot works to help bridge the gap between readers of romantic fiction and the genre itself by meeting reader demands, chiefly demands for more diversity.

As publishers digital and traditional alike continue to watch book sale trends and social media wars of opinion, these concerns have seemed to largely passed right over readers of romantic fiction. While eBook sales may be taking a dip, readers of romance novels have their feet dug in the ground, and after analyzing how well the genre adapted to digital publishing, it isn’t difficult to see why. Regardless of digital publishing trends yet to pass, readers of romantic fiction seem content to sit on the sidelines and simply finish an eBook–or 5.

Digital Publishing for the Youth

Many schools have implemented the use of a digital publishing platform to expose students to the online publishing world while also giving them an outlet to express themselves and refine their writing skills. Colleges and high schools have encouraged students to post on these online platforms. But as a student, how do you edit these works? What are the steps in creating an article for online publishing? How do you get started?

This article will discuss tactics and tips on editing, writing, and properly publishing work on a digital publishing platform for your school or university.

What do I write about?

This question seems to be at the forefront of every student’s mind when given the task of writing an article online. It might sound simple, but choosing your topic is the most important step. Finding material that you enjoy and that hasn’t been overdone can be the most difficult part of writing a digital article. More specifically, when publishing online, there are so many other articles and people writing alongside you, so choosing an original idea can feel almost impossible.

The goal isn’t to find a brand new idea but to find an entirely new perspective. Think of something you enjoy then find an aspect about it that you find interesting.

Time to build credibility: research.

Research is the foundation of any credible written work online. It’s one thing to say you know something, but digital publishing requires you to directly link your sources to your work. When you find all your sources, you will have to URL link them to the phrase or word you are citing from them. This seems difficult, but it provides your reader with direct links to your thoughts and trusted information.

This being said, be sure to not quote non-credible resources. This could include Wikipedia, WikiHow, and any other website that allows users to edit and add information that is not reviewed. Finding research will likely take you the longest amount of time when writing an article if done correctly, but don’t let this discourage you. It will be worth it in the end.

What about the title and format?

It’s the moment you have been waiting for. You have all your research ready and have picked a solid and interesting topic. It’s then you realize that you don’t have a title or any idea how to format your writing. The first thing to remember is that it is better to write your title once your article is complete. This will ensure the title fully matches what you have written.

The format can be a bit more tricky. It needs to be simple and easy to follow. So your font should be easy to read and at a size many won’t have to strain to read from a screen. You are going to want to break each section into subtopics to make it easier for the reader to follow along and skim the work. This also helps keep your thoughts and topics organized and structured. Each subtopic will have a mini-title. Be sure these titles have their own line, are short, and are bolded so they can easily be spotted.

When you eventually get to the title, be sure it is bold and larger than the subtitles. Each section of the article is meant to be easily digestible and to the point. Reframe from longer paragraphs and too many pictures, one or two max. With these steps, formatting will be a breeze.

It’s time to write!

So, you’ve been set you up with a topic, have done your research, and understand the format. It’s time for you to put all the prep work into action. It’s easiest to begin by engaging your audience with a scenario or by simply summarizing the topic at hand. It doesn’t need to be long and expressive. With online publishing, it’s better to get straight to the core of what you are discussing.

The most basic and arguably the most important step with writing online is making sure your grammar and spelling are checked. Readers are going to find you less trustworthy if you display a lack of knowledge of basic literacy. So be sure to check your work with a teacher, student, or an online tester.

You’ve got this!

It’s time to begin! Write with confidence, interest, and credibility. These steps will help you on your journey of successfully publishing on your school or university’s online forum and beyond. Starting is the hardest part, but with this article’s help, it might start being the easiest.

Creepypasta: Horror Published by the Internet

Creepypasta is one of the most popular niches of creative works published to the internet. Several stories in this online literary horror genre have become mainstream, such as the 2018 film Slender Man based off the creepypasta of the same name. However, while many of these stories have evolved to stand on their own in whatever form, their conceptions were heavily reliant on the internet as a medium. In order to understand the origins of these stories and how they got their success, one must learn more about the relationship between creepypasta and the internet.

What is Creepypasta?

Creepypasta is, at a basic level, online horror content. Its name comes from the phrase “copypasta,” which is an internet-born phrase referring to, as Merriam-Webster states, “data (such as a block of text) that has been copied and spread widely online.” The merging of this word and “creepy” refers to the nature of creepypasta as horror images and stories posted online and spread around the internet. In this way, creepypasta somewhat resembles oral storytelling. There is a source for the story (usually an image or ambiguous post), then an established canon writing, then internet users spread the story and add on pieces of their own. An article by Annalee Hewitz called “Has Creepypasta Reinvented Classic Folklore?” posits that creepypasta has the same “fluid and ever-changing” nature as an oral folktale. However, in the case of creepypasta, the story does get to be published (if not in the traditional sense) online.

“Something Awful”

While creepypasta has historically come from various different sources, many of the most recognized stories from the genre have come from the online forum known as “Something Awful.” The Library of Congress digital archive refers to the forum as “a comedy website housing a variety of content, including blog entries, forums, feature articles, digitally edited pictures, and humorous media reviews.” One of the threads on Something Awful is dedicated to original horror stories written by members of the site, and in June of 2009, user Gerogerigegege posted a thread asking for submissions of “paranormal images” created by fellow users. This thread led to the creation of Slender Man, one of the most recognizable and popular creepypasta stories. Additionally, Something Awful was used to spread the “Smile Dog” creepypasta, which began as a single edited image and became a full story with abundant lore. The site is doubtless one of the leading sources for the spread and creation of creepypasta content.

Slender Man

Slender Man, by Eric Knudsen, is a creepypasta featuring a tall, faceless pale man in a suit. The story started when Knudsen, using the username Victor Surge, posted edited pictures of the character to the aforementioned Something Awful thread. He paired these black and white images with a cryptic caption: “We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time … 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.” The creature Slender Man is characterized as an enactor of chaos and violence, usually grooming young children into doing his bidding. Knudsen expanded his creepypasta into an established intellectual property, beginning with lore that he shared on the internet, then with the indie game series of the same name, and leading to the 2018 Slender Man film.

Smile Dog

“Smile Dog” has a far more ambiguous origin than that of Slender Man. The creepypasta comes from a heavily edited image of a dog with human-like teeth that was spread around the internet. This became an established story about the image in which anyone who sees it becomes haunted by dreams of the creepy dog until they themselves show the image to someone else. The author of the official story is unknown, but it is still considered as the official canon. The image itself was shared to Something Awful, like many other creepypasta images.

Creepypasta Vs. Traditional Horror

One question that may come to mind when considering creepypasta is how it is any different from the regular horror genre, like any scary story from a book in the library. The definitive factor here is the internet as a medium. The internet is interactive, which is one of its most definitive features. When one picks up a book from the library, with the author’s name and publishing company emblazoned on the cover, there is a disconnect between the reader and the story that allows a sense of removal from the events occurring in the narrative. The reader may become captivated by the story, and even frightened by what is depicted within, but there is a comfortable padding of reality that comes from a traditionally published work. With the internet, and especially spaces like Reddit or Something Awful, there doesn’t have to be an announcement of the story’s fictional nature. The interaction between the reader and content is far more intimate without the red tape of published works, and strips away some of the comfort provided by a printed fictional work.

Creepypasta and its Legacy

The internet has provided a new avenue for digital publishing that transcends the restraints of traditional publishing companies. Stories like Slender Man and Smile Dog might never have been conceived within a traditional setting, especially given the components heavily reliant on an internet format (such as the original images associated with the stories). As Hewitz states, “creepypasta stories — whether visual or written — are always undergoing transformation.” There is a fluidity to online storytelling that cannot be replicated in a fixed format like a printed book. In this way, creepypastas are more similar to stories shared verbally, and contain the same kind of ingenuity and originality that comes with collaboration of such a large scale.

The Digital Visual Novel

It’s not unusual to see crossovers in technical industries. An innovative tool adapted from the realm of video games is seeing an emergence in digital publishing—the digital visual novel. These formats play like a video game, encouraging users to make decisions and provide visual and audio elements to engage the user in an immersive and interactive experience with the material. Digital visual novels present a unique and engaging medium with promising implications for educational materials in particular. These interactive books have the potential to revolutionize traditional learning methods. As technology continues to integrate into education, exploring the implications of digital visual novels in this context becomes increasingly relevant.

One of the primary benefits of this medium lies in the immersive nature of the visual novel. By combining narrative or expository elements with visuals and real-time decision-making, learners can actively engage with the content. This interactive storytelling approach fosters a more dynamic and participatory learning experience for the user. It can be particularly effective in subjects that require a hands-on, contextual understanding, such as medical or technological sciences, industry technical manuals, children’s educational tools.

The visual novel can be an especially useful tool for providing easy access to learning materials for children or adults with reading or learning disabilities as they can cater to different learning styles. Visual learners may benefit from the rich graphics and illustrations, while textual information caters to those who learn best through reading. The inclusion of audio components adds another layer, accommodating auditory learners. This versatility allows educators to address diverse needs within a single platform.

The branching narrative structure inherent in many visual novels also offers a personalized learning experience. Students can make decisions within the text, influencing its progression and outcomes. This not only enhances critical thinking and decision-making skills, but also provides a safe space for experimentation and learning from consequences. It encourages students to explore different paths and perspectives, promoting a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

The gamification aspect of visual novels can make learning more enjoyable. Incorporating elements like points, achievements, or progression levels can motivate students to actively participate and complete educational modules. This gamified approach taps into the psychological aspect of reward systems, making the learning process inherently more engaging.

Accessibility is another key advantage. Digital visual novels can be easily accessed and distributed through online platforms, overcoming geographical barriers. This accessibility ensures that a wider audience, including remote learners, can benefit from the educational content. Additionally, the ability to update and modify digital content allows for ongoing improvements based on feedback and evolving educational needs.

However, challenges exist, including the need for careful content curation to ensure educational integrity. While the immersive nature of visual novels is advantageous than the traditional printed or electronic text, it also demands a balance to prevent distraction from the educational objectives. Striking this balance requires thoughtful design and alignment with curriculum goals.

Furthermore, the integration of digital visual novels into educational systems may face resistance due to traditional perceptions of gaming as a distraction. Educators and institutions must recognize the educational potential of this medium and work towards overcoming skepticism by demonstrating its effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes.

The implications of digital visual novels as educational materials are vast and promising. Their immersive, interactive, and personalized nature aligns well with modern educational goals. As technology continues to advance, embracing innovative mediums like visual novels can contribute to a more engaging and effective learning experience, preparing students for the evolving demands of the digital age.

Incubator Program offering an Edge

The Publisher Desk Incubator program has announced the opening of 2024 applications. It is a program focused on providing digital publishing companies with a comprehensive suite of support and services. The ten chosen digital publishers will receive services and tools valued at up to $50,000, enhancing everything from monetization to SEO and content strategy.

The application is open to all digital publishing platforms and once that has been submitted, they will proceed to the interview portion of the qualifying companies chosen. The program outlines a set of standards that the companies chosen must display in order to be considered for the award. There are no publicized stipulations in reference to location, subject matter, or specific parameters that the company must have in order to qualify. However, they emphasize that the companies that will receive the awards are ones that display a promise of growth and innovation.

“There is a tremendous amount of creativity and drive among publishers online, and we know that it often takes a boost to take a publisher to the next level,” said Chris Ward, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of The Publisher Desk. “Our program is geared toward growth-minded publishers and entrepreneurs who want to take their content and maximize it in a way that scales their business.”

Incubator Programs

The Publisher Desk Incubator Program is not the only one of its kind. There are many similar organizations offering services and tools to companies that are working to establish, or even expand, their companies that need assistance to navigate the most optimal paths forward.

Some programs are even offered at universities. They open applications to their students. Then dependent upon how many the program has allotted for; those students are immersed in an intense and unique curriculum intended to provide services and tools to encourage mastery.

An incubator program’s purpose is to give companies access to mentorship, investors, and other support to help them get established. In the case of The Publisher Desk Incubator they integrate advanced monetization strategies, proactive website monitoring, and strategic keyword research, all designed to enhance content visibility and optimize revenue.

Another example of an incubator program for digital publishing that companies may consider is Le Labo de l’Edition (the Publishing Laboratory). It is a digital publishing incubator based in Paris. “Le Labo is unique in that it’s developed by and funded by the city of Paris itself, aiming towards educational collaboration and partnership. The goal of the incubation program is to assist traditional publishers to evolve in response to the shift to digital publishing. Le Labo connects members of publishing community to develop a continued strategy for growth and development of the organization.”

Taking the Initiative

With a growing demand for digital content, and specifically for scientific, technical, medical, legal, and business text, competition will become more intense. Enrolling into a program like The Publisher Desk Incubator will offer these digital publishing companies an edge over their competitors. It will also prepare them for the potential challenges that other companies have already faced, offering them an insight into how to prevent falling victim as other publishers have inevitably done.

According to Technavio’s market analysis, “The Digital Publishing Market size is expected to grow by USD 138.76 billion, accelerating at a CAGR of 13.12% during the forecast period.” Speculations cite the “digitization of paperback books is notably driving the digital publishing market.” However, there are still pitfalls that can result in the failure of companies like, “high subscription costs may impede market growth.”

Enrolling into a program that offers insight into these positives and negatives, while also being educated about the various tools and services offered, will provide digital publishers with the power to make educated decisions that will best benefit them. As the industry grows companies that take initiative into reinforcing their growing potential will statistically prove better equipped to maintain relevance and have a higher chance of success.

According to Technavio, if digital publishing continues the current trends, then between 2024 and 2028 the market dynamics speculate that three major challenges will hinder digital publishers. They are:

  • Real-time monetary transactions in digital content entail potential financial loss for consumers if critical data is lost, fueling consumer concerns about the security and privacy of their account details and potentially hindering market growth.
  • Piracy remains a longstanding threat in the content industry, set challenges such as file sharing, copying, and downloading from illegal online sources, emphasizing the critical need for premium digital content protection among the service providers.
  • Illegal downloading of digital content results in billions of dollars in losses, restricting the growth of the global digital publishing market.

The Publisher Desk Incubator program will educate their chosen publishers on how to combat these challenges. The purpose is to provide the most comprehensive information in order to provide the building blocks necessary to be successful in such a booming industry. With the saturation of competition there are ample reasons for publishers to look into the resource that offers such an edge over the competition.

Faster News, Faster Changes

These days most teenagers and young adults do not read newspapers or magazines. Instead, they read news and articles on their smartphones and laptops (O’Brien, 2021). Getting news and media online instead of in print is an example of how “digital media” is changing society. A 2021 magazine article talked about the effects of digital media on jobs like writers, editors and publishers (“Impacts of Digital Media”, 2021). 

The article said that digital media creates both challenges and opportunities for these careers (“Impacts”, 2021). One challenge is that news cycles are much quicker now. Writers have to publish stories very fast on news websites (“Impacts”, 2021). They do not always have enough time to check facts or do proper research before posting articles. Another challenge is that publishers and editors now worry more about fake viral news spreading online (“Impacts”, 2021). When false information goes viral, it makes their publications seem untrustworthy. Fact checkers have to work extra hard to protect against false news (“Impacts”, 2021).

However, digital media also provides new opportunities. Writers can now share news globally within seconds (“Impacts, 2021”). Before the internet, they only reached local readers. Digital tools also allow greater creativity. Writers use multimedia like online videos and podcasts to tell better stories (“Impacts”, 2021). For publishers and editors, digital analytics help them understand reader interests better (“Impacts”, 2021). Online data shows them which types of articles perform best with audiences. This helps guide their decisions.

Overall the article argued modern digital media pushes writers, editors and publishers to be more flexible and adapt quickly (“Impacts”, 2021). Roles are changing. Writing skills now emphasize speed. Editors oversee more fact checking than before. Publishers track online data patterns more closely. Digital technology will likely keep disrupting old media models (“Impacts, 2021”). Jobs depend on adjusting to new internet-centered systems.

In conclusion, a shift toward online media impacts many traditional writing and publishing jobs – often in both favorable and challenging ways (“Impacts”, 2021). These careers face pressure to change accustomed practices. But digital platforms also allow greater reach and insight. Moving forward, striking an balance between print and online formats could be wise until new internet-native models emerge.


O’Brien, D. (2021, January 10). Print media in decline as young people move online. Business Daily.

Impacts of digital media on writing and publishing careers. (2021, March 31). Publishing Perspectives.

Preserving The Genre: Pulp Fiction in the Digital Age

“Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

Nearly everyone has heard the proverb at least once in their lives—and not without good reason. It is a little piece of wisdom meant to impart an invaluable and universal life lesson: the value of people or things should not be determined on a whim based off on first impression. After all, appearances can be deceiving and it’s what is inside that truly matters most.

But this proverb is rarely applied to actual books and their cover art. In fact, studies and polls show that readers really do often judge a book—even an eBook—by its cover. While this may lead to readers potentially misjudging a great book and missing out entirely, there are some cases where judging a book by its cover are entirely appropriate, such as good old fashioned pulp fiction paperbacks.

These paperbacks are most notable for their whacky and eye-catching cover art, meant to convert lookers to buyers as they gawked at the provocative illustrations. Illustrations including sexy women in revealing clothes, men brandishing weapons, and even graphic depictions of violence—all covers arguably not commonplace today, but also much too detailed to translate well to a thumbnail image. But this doesn’t mean that pulp is incompatible with the digital age.


America’s pulp fiction period officially began in 1860 and fizzled out in 1955 after enjoying a couple decades of particularly heightened popularity around the time of the Great Depression. Industrialization brought the emergence printing technology that would vastly change the relationship between the average American, much more literate than before, and books forever.

The printing industry sought to capitalize on growing literacy rates and committed to making books more affordable by printing on wood-pulp paper instead of the rag paper which was in popular use at the time. Unfortunately, while wood-pulp paper was cheaper than its rag paper counterpart, it was definitely not as stable due to its acidity and cellulose composition. However, the instability of the paper was not an issue at the height of pulp’s popularity. Wood-pulp paper was incredibly cheap, meaning paperbacks could be purchased by middle-class Americans for mere pocket change, often just $0.25. They were meant for voracious reading, quick turn-and-burns as opposed to something designed to show off on a bookshelf.

Authors also benefitted from the pulp era. The period marks a significant time of innovation in literature and made way for the introduction of genre fiction never before seen on newsstands before—genres like hardboiled detective, western romance, and even science fiction. The era even lays claim to some prolific names in literature, such as sci-fi legends HP Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard, as well as detective story legends Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

While not scandalous by today’s standards, Pulps came under heavy criticism in American society for their contents, which frequently included crime, sex, and violence, among other exploitative themes. However, Pulp consumers couldn’t be deterred—amidst a bleak social landscape and the lurking Depression, readers simply craved escapist fiction. It is a craving that is on the rise again today, as evidenced by the increase in adult fiction sales year-over-year. The interest in adult fiction combined with our tendency to be nostalgic seems to suggest that modern society could see the return of Pulp, which even found itself trending on Twitter earlier this year.  

But in the digital age, does the Pulp-curious reader have the option of an authentic experience, or will they have to settle for a watered down and sterilized version of Pulp? Thankfully, there are some options—even with cover art fully intact.


Unfortunately, the use of wood-pulp paper has made the digitization and preservation of these books a daunting task. Unlike the process of scanning a typical book to .PDF, the groups that dedicate themselves to this mission are often faced with unique challenges posed by the wood-pulp due to its composition and age. Often, there are creases that need to be flattened, tears that need to be mended, or even multiple fragments that need to be put back together as a whole.

Thankfully, the Library of Congress, began a preservation initiative for their digital archive, which contains more than 14,000 different pulp titles. Initially, the Library began the task of digitizing by moving the paper-printed pulps to microfilm, or tiny little photographs. The issue with microfilm however, is its inability to properly preserve color intensity and image detail.

The Library recognizes the limitations of microfilm preservation and quickly resolved to split preservation duties between two divisions: the Collections Conservation Section, which is responsible for preserving the covers, and the Preservation Reformatting Division, which is responsible for the text.

Along with the Library, there are private organizations that dedicate themselves to digitizing these delightfully weird pieces of American literary history. Websites such as Radio Archives offer the pulp-curious reader not only digitized copies of pulps, but PDF, Mobi, and ePub formats, fully bringing pulp into the digital world and onto our eReaders—and just in time.  

Substack: Academia Transformed

Substack is taking the world of academia by storm. In the past couple of years, writers like Rayne Fisher-Quann, Zeynep Tufekci, and others have utilized the platform to publish think-pieces, essays, and articles that have since been instrumental in academic and journalistic discussions. The website, despite having its share of copycats and naysayers, continues to grow. With this growth has come a sense of respectability, especially in terms of its forward-thinking members whose essays and articles have begun to be cited and included in academic discussions.


Substack’s homepage refers to itself as a “subscription network for independent writers and creators.” Launched in 2017, the website was designed to be a platform for writers to post their work and garner a subscription-based, newsletter-style audience of readers. Since then, the site has flourished and evolved into something that has drawn in creators of all kinds. Substack supports the work of writers in a vast range of fields and topics, with its home tab listing categories such as Culture, Technology, Business, Travel, and many more. Its subscription feature allows writers to select which posts they want to be publicly accessible and which they want to make available only to paying subscribers, who contribute a monthly fee for this access.

Online Academia

The internet has a reputation for making worlds once-exclusive accessible to millions, and academia is no exception. The academic field is one with a history often considered pretentious and stuffy, only accessible to a select few and rather narrow-minded in its culture. An article by Armaan Verma for The Daily Gamecock states the following: “Whether it be paywalls, complex or even downright incomprehensible papers, or even historical bias towards upper class men, academia has always found a way to make itself less accessible to the common person.” However, the article shifts to posit that academia can be made more “relevant” through the internet. With the resources the internet provides, academia has the opportunity to widen itself and develop a more expansive and well-rounded culture. Substack and its diverse platform of writers seems to be a promising addition to this effort.

Substack Academics

The following are examples of the writers whose works have been part of wider academic discussions over the past few years.

Rayne Fisher-Quann is a Canadian writer and cultural commentator. Her works on feminism, politics, sociology, and other topics on her Substack account internet princess have received acclaim in contemporary academic and commentative circles. She has spoken at universities like McGill and currently has a following of over 70,000 subscribers on Substack. Some of her influential pieces are the following: “standing on the shoulders of complex female characters” (about the glorification and romanticization of depression in young womanhood through the example of aesthetics and fictional female characters), who’s afraid of amber heard? (a think-piece concerning society’s treatment of Amber Heard and other woman who weren’t “perfect victims”), and the pain gap (a breakdown of the dynamics of toxic relationships and how women suffer).

Zeynep Tufekci is a Turkish sociologist and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has an online news publication known as Insight on Substack, where she posts articles, essays, and think-pieces. She is also the author of the book Twitter and Tear Gas. She is a contributing writer to the New York Times and The Atlantic. Some of her influential pieces are the following: “Long Covid, The Long History Version” (about “complex chronic conditions and post-viral syndromes”) and “On the Alex Jones Verdict: The Very, Very Lucrative World of Lying” (about the Alex Jones trial and its societal implications).

Brian Klaas is an American political scientist and global politics professor at University College. He is also a contributing writer to The Atlantic. His Substack account is The Garden of Forking Paths, where he posts articles and essays about various educational topics for his audience of over 20,000 subscribers. Some of his influential pieces are the following: “The Biggest Hidden Bias in Politics” (about the American political system and its main failings), “It’s the Guns.” (about gun violence and gun control), and “The Evolution of Modern Dogs” (about the evolution of dog breeding and its societal implications).


The internet is a great equalizer. Since the dawn of its existence, online publications have revolutionized the fields of journalism, publishing, and academia. The new influence of Substack in online journalism and publishing in general sets a promising foundation for an era of academia that is more diverse and more informed. Perhaps, as it continues to grow, the platform will establish itself as a giant of reputable publications and educated opinion-pieces.

Issuu – What Is It?

Issuu may be the newest major innovation in digital publishing. The platform has grown immensely since its establishment in 2006, especially within the last decade after moving its headquarters to Palo Alto in California. Issuu began as a start-up in Denmark before becoming, by its own claim, the industry-leading digital publishing platform. The platform has other offices in Denmark, Portugal, and Germany as well. 

In September of 2021, Issuu received $31M from Capital IP as financing. Capital IP is an “investment firm focused exclusively on providing innovative financing solutions to emerging and transformative technology companies.” Capital IP believes Issuu is worth investing in which, if their growth in digital sales or monthly page views mean anything, is definitely the case. The platform boasts, as of 2021, over four billion page views monthly. In 2020, Issuu’s growth in digital sales equals 840% growth, primarily due to independent creators. 

Issuu is a digital publishing platform available for free to anyone wishing to publish their content digitally in an accessible, easy way. Medium, when describing Issuu, indicates that they are most widely known for their digitally published magazines. However, Issuu offers a variety of services for its users to take advantage of. These include digitally publishing articles, flipbooks, social media posts, videos, and gifs. They also offer numerous features to aid in the digital publishing process such as adding links, embedding publications, collaboration technology, statistics, etc. 

Not every feature Issuu provides is available for free, however. The platform offers different plans depending on the company or individual’s needs. The free plan offers the ability to digitally publish articles, gifs, videos, and flip books. It also provides features such as using provided flipbook templates, sharing your unique content through links or by ordering print copies, creating a public profile page where you can manage your stacks (like bookshelves) and others can see all your content in a single place, seeing 30-day statistics, uploading files from other websites such as Canva, etc. That is a lot of features available with the basic, free plan, but of course paid plans will provide even further aid to those wishing to publish digitally. 

Besides the free plan, Issuu offers three paid plans: Starter, Premium, and Optimum. These plans offer different amalgamations of features on them such as further customization options, further content creation options, more options for customer support, etc. However, collaborative technology allows Issuu to offer two plans specifically for teams. The plans vary in features that companies can take utilize such as multiple workspaces and seats for employees, a dedicated customer success manager, custom training, and some others. 

Issuu’s free plan provides a great opportunity for nonprofits or new companies to create content to be digitally published at a low cost (free). Nonprofits often deal with the problems of few staff and limited funds so the free option of digital publishing for their content to be advertised and distributed is a great option. Nonprofits can also benefit from Issuu’s paid plans if they’d like some of their content to be monetized for fundraising purposes. Also, a nonprofit organization can benefit from Issuu’s paid team plans which would allow multiple people from the nonprofit to work on their publication simultaneously.

An aspect of Issuu that is discussed on multiple sites is their user-friendliness. Many first-time users of the website found the site easy to navigate, utilize, and export from. Ease-of-use is extremely important for a digital publishing website claiming to allow customers the ability to digitally publish their content themselves through its technology. Issuu’s relevance as a digital publishing platform has become greater in more recent years as technology advanced and reliance on the Internet with its many benefits increased. With Issuu’s relevance being greater, more users will likely seek to use the platform as the concept of digital publishing grows wider, meaning the platform’s user-friendliness will be even more essential as individuals with little-to-no training in digital publishing will be using the site. 

Issuu may be a new name to many as digital publishing as a concept is relatively novel as well. However, Issuu as a platform for digital publishing will likely become larger as many seek to publish their content digitally. The site fills a gap in terms of accessibility. Digital publishing as a concept gives the impression that publishing one’s own content would be easier than taking a traditional publishing route, but many are still left unsure of how to go about publishing content digitally. Issuu provides an easy platform to publish content digitally whether it be videos, newsletters, magazines, gifs, or flip books. Hopefully, this article succeeds in providing an overview of Issuu and how it can be utilized by many.