Self-Publishing 101

Electronic books offer a direct channel to readers

5 min read
Mobile devices have made electronic publishing a mass medium.
Photo: Marcello Bortolino/iStockphoto

/image/MjExNjQ1Nw.jpegPhoto: iStockphoto

Journalist A.J. Liebling once famously noted, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” But with the advent of electronic publishing—and ancillary technologies such as online stores, e-readers, and print-on-demand (POD) systems—anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can be a publisher. For better or worse, whether they’re barely literate neophytes or New York Times best-selling authors, writers can publish whatever they want without having to get approval from an agent, a selection committee, or a peer review process. Online retailers like, Apple, and Barnes & Noble also pay a significantly higher percentage of per-copy revenue than traditional publishing houses, giving writers the potential to earn much more money. So it’s no wonder that many authors (including us) are bypassing conventional publishers.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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