The non-linear reading revolution is now. Here’s how publishers are handling it

Publishers have always been heavily invested in their content, but only recently have needed to think about providing it in alternative forms for delivery across devices, channels, and applications — and going mobile. For many publishers today XML (Extensible Markup Language) is the key to transforming content into multiple formats, and thereby monetize it and future-proof it — even for applications that haven’t been thought of yet.

Evolution of the Content Paradigm

Content is no longer linear. For millennia, after graduating from stone tablets, scribes kept written material in scrolls, and it was read linearly from beginning to end. Finding something in the middle wasn’t so easy, nor was marking it for future reference. As time went on, codices (or books) made it easier to refer to things, and to look things up a page at a time. You could then even put in bookmarks. But it was still a mostly linear reading experience. Even dense reference books, never read from cover to cover, needed indexes to point readers to the right page.

The dawn of the digital age introduced new devices for reading content, and computer screens co-opted the scroll to allow you to continue reading long-form content. Content was still primarily linear in the 20th century, with hints of what was to come. Only in the past few years, with the introduction of multiple reading devices, did the page paradigm, the linear-only consumption model, prove insufficient. Device screens forced publishers to reorganize what was on the page, and eventually rethink what constitutes a “page.” And as reading devices became more sophisticated, so did readers, who now regularly pick and choose the pieces of content they want to read today, what they want to mark for later, and what they want to keep for a while. That old page and book paradigm doesn’t really allow for curated, bookmarked, cached, and linked content.

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Source: Publishing Executive

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