The growth of the Internet has brought with it a remarkable outpouring of independent publishing. The Net contains a wealth of electronic newsletters, journals, information services and other textual material that is self-published or issued by informal publishing groups.
Now we see the emergence of online transaction systems that allow individual authors and other independent publishers to receive payment for their online efforts (if they so wish). These systems — which are focused on the World Wide Web portion of the Net — involve electronic debits, digital cash, and other techniques for transferring even tiny sums of money between online accounts. Some of these transaction systems are setting up what amount to online newsstands or bookstores — sites at which readers can browse through descriptions of works offered for sale and order those items that are of interest.
These systems hold the potential to create a new realm of financially viable independent publishing. Some of the features that such systems should incorporate to suit the needs of writers include:
- Low costs for writers
- The ability to process transactions as small as a few cents
- Flexibility with regard to works produced by multiple authors
- Copyright protection
- The capacity for anonymous transactions
Online transaction systems also could be used for the payment of royalties to freelance writers when articles they previously wrote for print publications are reused on commercial online information services.