Take it with you

I am no fan of PDFs as a way to display content online. They are usually the last resort of persnickety print designers who can’t stand the control they lose on the web. As a way to print out content, PDFs have some advantage (even if they are still a pain in the butt) — and that’s why Guardian Unlimited just announced a plan to produce constantly updated PDF editions intended to be printed and taken on the train or to the lunch table. Note that this is not the print edition; it’s a digital product that’s supposed to be updated every 15 minutes. They’ll be sponsored by British Telecom. And yes, there’s plenty of irony in this: from paper to digital to paper. I suppose it saves money to make your reader his own pressmen.

One quibble: They’re putting it out in A4 size; I hope that works with American printer trays. LATER: Shawn in the comments tells me (about 10 seconds after the post went up) that Adobe and Mac Preview will resize to fit. Thanks.

  • Adobe Acrobat will shrink or enlarge the page to fit whatever size paper you are using. I think that Preview on the Mac will do the same thing.

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  • 10 seconds??? Wow. I had no idea my RSS reader was so quick.

  • This is a makeshift solution because electronic books have yet to develop.

    Jared Bernstein has a new book out where he coins(?) the acronyms YOYO (you’re on your own) and WITT (where in this together). He means the followers of the Reagan era, but it seems to fit.

    Making readers print their own copies is the ultimate YOYO theme.

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  • Could someone explain more about YOYO and WITT? Maybe it is an American thing, hard to understand here in the UK.

    The Guardian seems to have concluded that online is for free, funded by advertising. They rarely promote the subscription option on the digital edition of the full print content. Maybe the numbers are too disappointing. Maybe they worry the demand for print could vanish entirely.

    So if print has to be free, buy your own ink.

    I think it is a Blues Brothers movie where somebody asks ‘what do want for nothing? a rubber biscuit?’ what was that about?

  • I like the idea and suspect it will fly. The practice is not a radical innovation. It builds on–is in fact just a new instance of–a series of existing practices: printing something for the commute, reading the news on the tube, reading the news on paper, reading evening papers, checking the news on the web before going home, etc. But it improves on them by offering the up-to-the-minute freshness that only on the web can offer, on the go, without gadgets. And for the Guardian’s substantial US audiences, this will be their only way of getting a printed, typeset copy of the paper.

  • I just received my Kindle 2 and had some concerns about the viewing area and size of the text. I have an “eye issue” and noticed it was getting harder to read books. The Kindle solved that problem in a flash. It is so much easier to read than a paper page and you can adjust the font size as needed. For older readers, I think this would be the answer to any reading problems. Great item!!

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