Publishing Heads into Thin Air

A couple of new signs -- as if they were needed -- that publishing is moving online and that the traditional standard bearers are catching up:

1. The Pulitzer foundation announced that it will accept entries from online-only publications. Sig Gissler, a Pulitzer administrator, said the change reflects the foundation's "willingness to adapt to the remarkable growth of online journalism. The new rules enlarge the Pulitzer tent and recognize more fully the role of the Web, while underscoring the enduring value of words and of serious reporting."

Since 2006, newspapers have been allowed to include online content with their entries (as the Post did with its winning coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre), but now publications that exist only online will be able to compete, too.

2. The Best American Short Stories series will consider pieces published online for inclusion in next year's edition. But is that really manageable? In an interview on the BASS site, the series editor, Heidi Pitlor, says, "I try to read every story published in an American or Canadian periodical.... I don't consider stories that aren't published." Well, she can kiss that helpful rule goodbye. In our new paradigm, what isn't -- or can't be -- published online with a few clicks of the mouse? (Cue "The Sorcerer's Apprentice.") The Pulitzer board made an effort to delimit the kinds of online publications it will deal with: "United States newspapers or news organizations that publish at least weekly, that are 'primarily dedicated to original news reporting and coverage of ongoing stories,' and that 'adhere to the highest journalistic principles.' " But the BASS series seems to have left itself open to a flood of submissions that will make the crushing load of previous years look miniscule.

It's the same problem that keeps us at Book World from reviewing online books. We're already receiving about 1,000 titles a week. We know there are probably good books on the Web that we're missing, but how exactly would we deal with the thousands of e-galleys that would ping our inbox every day?

-- Ron Charles

By Ron Charles |  December 17, 2008; 7:08 AM ET Ron Charles
Previous: Obama-Mania Hits Kid Lit | Next: Poet Elizabeth Alexander to read at Obama Inauguration


Please email us to report offensive comments.

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company