Bonus Material: Is Asia Truly Ahead of the West in Digital Innovation and Adoption?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Peter Gordon of Chameleon Press

In today’s lead article about the Singapore Writers Festival, Peter Gordon, Hong Kong publisher of Chameleon Press, suggested that some parts of Asia were slow movers in the race towards literary digitization.

He said: E-publishing “is awaited with a combination of anticipation of the possibilities and trepidation about the effects it may have on the traditional publishing industry, and as well as some bemusement about how non-English scripts will fit into technologies developed elsewhere.”

Gordon’s comments run counter to the common perception that some Asian nations, particularly Japan and Korea, are well ahead of the United States and Europe in terms of adoption of digital reading technologies. Gordon also suggests that some of the scripts for particular languages—and one thinks immediately of Thai as one example—may not render so well on e-screens.

Certainly Japanese readers have adopted literature for cell phones and, to an uncertain extent, e-books faster than Westerners—and this may have much to do with the fact that many of the prototypes of new cell phones and e-readers are developed in Asia. But does that also mean that Asian publishing is in a more advantageous position to take capitalize of new innovations? Is the culture so different that trends in Asia will remain isolated to that part of the world or does innovation go both ways? Are there areas where the Asian publishing and reading communities are markedly more developed in terms of digitization than the West?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #ppbonus.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.