posting online ain’t the same as being in print

Estimated reading time is 3 minutes.

REGARDING POSTING ONLINE, in response to having the official Elvis Presley website at Graceland picking up one of my articles—which I trumpeted loudly to family and friends via Facebook and email—my friend Stephanie Locke posted a nice comment on my A Touch Of Gold site: “Good to see Umphred back in print.”

Instead of simply accepting the comment, I responded with, “Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t consider being published online as being in print. In fact, I don’t even think the word publish should be used for online articles. I think I’ll write a short piece on the topic and post it on my other site!”

And so here I am writing a brief piece on why online ain’t in print and why we online writers/bloggers need to coin a new term and leave publish to the print trade.


Posting online: a drawing of Gutenberg's printing press.

Since the time of Gutenberg and his original hand-made and hand-operated printing press, we have associated an author with being “in print” with an author having a book available for purchase in stores. 

The definitions

Merriam-Webster defines publish first as a transitive verb (a verb that can take a direct object. In other words, it is done to someone or something):

1. “to make generally known,” or “to make public announcement of”
2. “to disseminate to the public,” or “to produce or release for distribution, specifically print,” or “to issue the work of an author

MW also defines publish as an intransitive verb (a verb that does not take a direct object; in other words, it is not done to someone or something):

1. “to put out an edition”
2. “to have one’s work accepted for publication”

Then according to Merriam-Webster, the use of publish with regards to the Internet is correct.


For most of us—especially writers—the term ‘publishing’ is effectively synonymous with the making of a book.


Wikipedia gives the word publish a more thorough review:

Publishing is the dissemination of literature, music, or information; that is, the activity of making information available to the general public. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works such as books and newspapers.

With the advent of digital information systems and the Internet, the scope of publishing has expanded to include electronic resources such as the electronic versions of books and periodicals, as well as micropublishing, websites, blogs, etc.”

Then according to Wikipedia, to use publish with regards to the Internet is correct usage. So, I am technically incorrect.


Posting online: a photo of a shelf of books from Taschen Books.

Among the many images of books that I could have chosen as an illustration here, I selected this one from Taschen Books. Why? Because it displays a book on the Rolling Stones and another on Elvis, it allows me to shamelessly plug my two other sites, Rather Rare Records and A Touch Of Gold.

A posting online suggestion

Still, I wish that the Internet would coin a new term, instead of appropriating a word with a rather defined and well-understood usage.

For example, even with the dominance of the Internet in all forms of communication, when one says “the publishing industry,” I assume that most of us automatically hears “the book trade.”

That is, reflexively, for most of us the term publishing is essentially and effectively synonymous with the making of a book, or a magazine.

I have no new term at hand that I cleverly coined during a moment of inspiration while lying down for sleep. I know it’s too late, but I can dream . . .


FEATURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page was cropped from the photo above, which I found on a website that may be called Typography Rules! The entire page is one photo and a few hundred words on typography from what appears to be an abandoned project by someone named Steph Guiney.


2 thoughts on “posting online ain’t the same as being in print”

    • J

      I do not own the copyright to that sketch.

      I do not remember the specific place where I found it but it and variations on it were all over the internet when I did find it.

      Hope that helps.



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