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Middle English, modification of Anglo-French publier, from Latin publicare, from publicus public

Anglo-Norman poeplier, poplier, pubblier, publier, pubplier, puplier, pupplier and Middle French publier to make public, to make known, to make famous, to announce, to proclaim (late 12th cent. in Old French as puepleié (past participle); French publier; < classical Latin pūblicāre (in post-classical Latin also puplicare (from 8th cent.)): see below), with alteration of the ending after verbs in -ish suffix2 (compare earlier publy v. from the same French etymon); there is no evidence for a French publir which could have given rise to the ending of the English verb. Classical Latin pūblicāre to make public property, to place at the disposal of the community, to make public, to make generally known, to exhibit publicly, to publish a book, to confiscate, in post-classical Latin also to denounce (9th cent.) is < pūblicuspublic adj. The α forms in English probably partly derive from Anglo-Norman variants in pop-, pup- which are influenced by forms of poeple people n., and partly show the influence within English of people n. Compare also Anglo-Norman publicer, publiser to announce, make public (early 15th cent. or earlier; perhaps < English). Compare Old Occitan publicar (late 12th cent.; also poblicar, pobleiar, pobliar; Occitan publicar), Catalan publicar (late 12th cent.), Spanish publicar (end of the 12th cent.), Portuguese publicar (13th cent.), Italian pubblicare (13th cent.), and also Middle Low German pūblicēren, pūblicīren, German publizieren (15th cent. as †publicieren, †publiciren).


transitive verb
  • 1a : to make generally known
b : to make public announcement of
b : to produce or release for distribution; specifically : print
c : to issue the work of (an author)
intransitive verb
  • 1: to put out an edition
  • 2: to have one's work accepted for publication


Publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature or information—the activity of making information available to the general public. In some cases, authors may be their own publishers, meaning: originators and developers of content also provide media to deliver and display the content. [[ Traditional]]ly, the term refers to the distribution of printed works such as books (the "book trade") 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, video games and the like.

Publishing includes the stages of the development, acquisition, copyediting, graphic design, production – printing (and its electronic equivalents), and marketing and distribution of newspapers, magazines, books, literary works, musical works, software and other works dealing with information, including the electronic media.

Publication is also important as a legal concept:

  • As the process of giving formal notice to the world of a significant intention, for example, to marry or enter bankruptcy;
  • As the essential precondition of being able to claim defamation; that is, the alleged libel must have been published, and
  • For copyright purposes, where there is a difference in the protection of published and unpublished works.

Recent developments

The 21st century has brought a number of new technological changes to the publishing industry. These changes include e-books, print on demand and accessible publishing. E-books have been quickly growing in availability since 2005. Google, and Sony have been leaders in working with publishers and libraries to digitize books. As of early 2011 Amazon's Kindle reading device is a significant force in the market, along with the Apple iPad and the Nook.

The ability to quickly and cost effectively Print on Demand has meant that publishers no longer have to store books at warehouses, if the book is in low or unknown demand. This is a huge advantage to small publishers who can now operate without large overheads and large publishers who can now cost effectively sell their backlisted items.

Accessible publishing uses the digitization of books to mark up books into XML and then produces multiple formats from this to sell to consumers, often targeting those with difficulty reading. Formats include a variety larger print sizes, specialized print formats for dyslexia, eye tracking problems and macular degeneration, as well as Braille, DAISY, Audiobooks and e-books.

Green publishing means adapting the publishing process to minimise environmental impact. One example of this is the concept of on demand printing, using digital or print-on-demand technology. This cuts down the need to ship books since they are manufactured close to the customer on a just-in-time basis.[9]

A further development is the growth of on-line publishing where no physical books are produced. The ebook is created by the author and uploaded to a website from where it can be downloaded and read by anyone.[1]