Tag Archives: Printing

The Publisher Audience

By Robin Lubbock

For years I’ve been meaning to write this post, but it seemed so obvious that I kept neglecting to write this thought down.

I am the publisher. You are the publisher. Anyone with a screen is the publisher. That changes everything. It moves institutions that are publishers on paper or on the air one step further away from the audience. It means newspapers and broadcasters have to find ways to market their wares to the new publishers.

Let me say that again with a little more detail.

In the old days newspapers and broadcasters made selections from a wide range of competing news producers (AP, Reuters, staff, freelancers, etc.) and decided which of those sources would be published on any given day. The newspaper editor decided what would go into the paper, where each story would appear on each page, and therefore what the audience would read.

The person who buys paper as a vehicle for news has the decisions about what appears on that paper made for him by the editor.

But when people started buying screens instead of newspapers that changed. The decisions about what appears on the screen were, and are, no longer made by the newspaper publisher or the broadcaster.

The person who buys a screen, not matter what size, as a vehicle for news, also decides what news will appear on the screen. The screen owner has become the publisher. The people who used to be called the audience have become the publishers.

Each day each member of the new publisher/audience produces a single, individual, unique publication for one person: themselves. That publication includes some e-mail, some news, some productivity applications, some video, some blogs, some comments, perhaps an e-book, some more e-mail and so on.

The power that newspapers and broadcasters used to have to decide what the audience would read, hear and see, is gone. That means the old idea that newspapers and broadcasters are the gatekeepers is also gone.

The institution that used to be the publisher or broadcaster has become just another news producer which has to try to get the new publisher/audience’s attention, in competition with the same organizations that used to compete for its attention.

The old publishers have moved back a level. The new publisher is the audience.

The implications of the audience being the publisher are huge and a little obvious, but deserve a separate post. Coming soon…

And of course the newspapers, broadcasters and booksellers are trying to get their hegemony back by producing tethered devices and apps. But that too is another story.

In the browser-based world we mostly inhabit the publisher audience is still enjoying the fruits of the screen revolution.

The Future of Paper

The Observer has an interesting piece on the future of the book. For some the future of the book is electronic:

[Bloomsbury chairman Nigel] Newton is certain that ‘within seven to 10 years, 50 per cent of all book sales will be downloads. When the e-reader emerges as a mass-market item, the shift will be very rapid indeed. It will soon be a dual-format market.’ That prediction makes a lot of sense. E-books will not replace the old format any more than the motorcar replaced the bicycle, or typewriters the pen.

This 50–50 division may occur largely between genre, where electronic books are largely used by reference and technical publishers. Meanwhile to survive the ordinary book trade will turn to

‘on-demand printing’, in which on-demand printers, installed in bookshops and service stations, will enable the reader to access a publisher’s backlist and make a high-speed print-out of a single copy of a book.

Print on demand already exists, of course: Many of the books you order from Amazon are printed in response to orders. But not by the bookseller: that technology has still to come. But I remember how as a bookseller in the early 1980s we dreamed of that world. If smaller bookshops were able to do that they may yet stand a chance against the big guys. Imagine knowing that any bookshop you walk into, however small, could zip off a copy of some obscure, out-of-print tome while you wait? Bookshops would suddenly become more like a Kinkos or a Post Office: A place where anything can be done. (But then again, the technology to do this in music already exists, so why hasn’t HMV and Tower Records made it possible to burn a CD on demand?)

This all said, the book is not dead yet:

There is every reason to want to see the printed word enhanced by something more in tune with current information technology, but until the geeky entrepreneurs of MIT, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and the rest can come up with something that looks like a book, feels like a book and behaves like a book, those who handle such items every day, and marvel over the magical integration of print, paper and binding, will probably continue to read and enjoy books much as Caxton and Gutenberg did.

The point really is that the book is not just a sentimental throwback to a happier time, but a superb piece of technology that maximises all those things we digital generation hold dear: great screen and easy to read in poor light conditions, indefinite battery life; light and highly portable; cheap; won’t break in water (just put on heater to dry); easy to navigate through content (just flip pages); nice to hold.

The other point worth making is that e-paper is much more likely to catch on in other areas before it catches on with books. Newspapers, magazines, journals, reports and exhibition flyers are much better suited to this kind of technology, because they need to be read while mobile (the newspaper on the train); they have no emotional hold on the user (a book is usually kept; a magazine is thrown away. The user therefore handles a book better and preserves its condition). Newspapers, getting smaller as our lives get more crowded, are an obvious target for a digital makeover, since we rarely keep them and yet every day fill the same space in our briefcase with an identical replacement.

In the case of flyers and reports, the ability to share and broadcast the content is an important part of the process. E-paper would be great at this, since it would be no harder (or easier, for that matter) than beaming what’s on your e-paper to someone else’s. Indeed, wherever reading is not a solitary activity, e-paper makes sense: bring an agenda into a meeting and fire it around the room by Bluetooth to other attendees (rather than printing out copies and stapling them, or demanding bring their laptops). Instead of walking around exhibitions weighed down with brochures and flyers, attendees could carry around one e-paper and receive blasts from each booth they are interested in.

I don’t think publishers need to worry that much. But elsewhere e-paper is long overdue.

How To Trace The Source of a Hard Copy

Good piece by AP on a Electronic Frontier Foundation report saying that tracking codes in color laser printers have been cracked. The report points to dots embedded in Xerox’s color laser printers that appear on the printed page, which can then be traced back to particular printers:

By analyzing test pages printed out by supporters worldwide and by staffers at various FedEx Kinko’s locations, researchers found that some of the dots correspond to the printers’ serial numbers. Other dots refer to the date and time of the printing.

This is done, AP says, to foil currency counterfeiters, but could just as easily be used by governments to track down criminals or dissidents. This is not just the typewriter trick, where a document could be traced back to a particular typewriter, or make of typewriter, by quirks in the typeface and letter alignment. Although that is a part of it: by comparing two documents it is possible to conclude they are from the same printer, which would poleax a suspect accused of being behind a document just by printing something from their printer.

But although the article doesn’t mention it, I assume these tracking codes could also allow people to track down a suspect, by looking at the serial number and following the distribution of that printer. Unless the purchaser chose to cover his tracks, it shouldn’t be too hard to trace the printer through the country, town, retailer and credit card receipt. (With the time stamp included, it should be possible to track down the customer even if the end user is in a public printshop.) I’m guessing here, but it all seems plausible.

It’ll be interesting to see where EFF goes with this. Me? I’m no dissident but I’m not crazy about anyone being able to trace back what I print out.

 

Recycling Publishers’ Rejection Letters

I’ve been looking at Printing on Demand recently — more of which anon — and was pleased to see there’s now a way to recycle publishers’ rejection letters By Printing Them On Toilet Paper:

Now, authors whose work has met similar rejection are getting the chance to put it behind them and simultaneously start to get even — thanks to a website that lets them print their rejection letters onto rolls of customized toilet paper.

Lulu (www.lulu.com), a site that enables anyone to publish and sell their own book, eBook, calendar . . . and now toilet roll, without some lofty editor first having to grant permission, is offering the groundbreaking new service — at http://www.lulu.com/tp — to highlight that it does not reject any legal and decent material.

 

Another Way To Clean Up Text

I’m a huge fan of Text Monkey, a small program which allows you to clean up text copied from elsewhere. It’s a godsend, but it’s not the only one out there. Text Cleanup does the same thing, but also cleans up Acrobat PDF files, particularly

all the extra line breaks that Acrobat puts in, and restor[ing] the paragraphs to what they were originally.

Text Cleanup costs $25. Text Monkey Pro costs $30 but also comes in a lite version for free, with many of the features of the fully paid up version.

Photo Printing — Not The Scam We Thought It Was

This is all a bit late, I know, but it’s probably worth pointing folk to if they’re not habitual readers of the excellent British computer magazine PCPro. Their cover story on photo-printing (registration required to read full reviews) in the February issue is a very sound, thorough and and detailed piece which makes some surprising conclusions:

  • Getting your photos printed on the high street is not always cheaper than printing them yourself;
  • It’s also not always better, in terms of quality and durability;
  • Inkjet cartridges and their contents are not always complete rip-offs (and ink is only the fifth most expensive liquid on earth, not the most….)
  • Epson comes out of it looking remarkably good, particularly its Stylus Photo R800 which now sells for around $300 (pictured above).

The study was conducted with the help of Wilhelm Imaging Research, which has its own detailed results of testing the R800 and other models.

I must confess I’ve been very skeptical about home printing of photographs, given how cheap some Internet services are. I also reckon that unless you spend a lot of time and practice you’re not going to get the same results as professionals — and that time and practice can use up a lot of expensive ink and paper. But as PCPro point out, for larger pictures it may actually work out cheaper, and better.

The Moleskine vs The Alwych

It arrived too late for the column, but there’s an alternative to the Moleskine that has its followers: The Alwych.

Alwych

The blurb on the website describes the notebook thus:

‘ALWYCH’ books have a unique strong, flexible and highly durable ALL WEATHER cover.
The pages are section sewn for strength, before being welded into the cover.
The ruled pages are printed on light cream paper, this increases the opacity of the pages substantially, compared to ordinary white paper.

Indeed, they are well-crafted and worth a look, though they lack the pocket, the elastic band and the bookmark tag of the Moleskine. They are, however, made in Scotland, which has to be good news. 

The Excellent Archives

Just got back from a day at London’s Public Record Office which now seems to call itself the National Archives. It’s an amazing place, and I have to say very well organised and run. And it’s all free.

I was digging around for stuff for my alleged book on Indonesian politics, but from a technology point of view it’s interesting to see how all this kind of archive-digging has gotten easier. I haven’t been in an archive for a decade, so I was intrigued to see how, on one hand, you’re only allowed a pencil and paper to write with (as pens might damage the documents), but if you’re smart you bring in a laptop and/or a camera.

Luckily I had both, and when I noticed folks using their digital cameras to photograph documents, I grabbed mine from my locker. The results are quite acceptable, and save a lot of time, though I’m wondering if there’s any way of ensuring a) the pictures are the best for printing or turning into PDFs and b) there’s any way of ensuring there’s no damage to documents? No one used a flash that I could see, and the guidelines (PDF) expressly forbid that.

Anyway, excellent place, great way of ordering documents (you can do over the Net, and while you’re in the building you can check on the status of your requests for more by swiping your reader card at any of the terminals dotted throughout the complex). Meanwhile you can wander around the cafe or shop, or just look at all the wonderful eccentrics dashing about, conducting their own obsessive sleuthing. I was awed.

Acrobat Converting Software

Here’s a list of services and products that create documents in Adobe’s  “Portable Document Format” (PDF). (Much of this is drawn from Merle’s article on WebProNews)

Software that creates PDF files from other files

  • PDFMoto: A Web publishing system that converts documents you create in any Windows application into PDF. They offer several different versions, so pricing varies, but they do offer a free version that is limited to 50 documents.
  • PDF995 : Free software that allows you to create PDF documents as easily as hitting the “print” key from within any application. The free version has an advertising splash page that comes up everytime you run the program but you can purchase “keys” for $9.95 each to remove them if they bother you.
  • Txt2PDF: a Perl 5 program that converts your old text docs to PDF format. Runs on any platform that supports Perl. From $40.
  • Gymnast: freeware text to PDF creator for Windows.
  • CutePDF Printer: totally free. This software has no annoying ads or banners. Choose print from within any application to create a PDF instantly.
  • Win2PDF: Windows NT, Win 2000 or XP. From $35 to $70.
  • PDFCreator: an open-source project on SourceForge.net, installing as a printer driver. (Thanks cmswire for this one, and pointing to the original story.)
  • pdfFactory: quite advanced PDF creator, including multiple documents into one PDF, preview and font embedding.

Suites that include PDF conversion

The following office suites include PDF printing as part of the standard package:

Other products, such as PaperPort ($100 to $200) and PaperMaster Pro ($200) will allow you to scan or convert a file to PDF as part of the program’s overall document management system.

Online Services

  • Adobe Look in the left hand column for the button that says “create PDF online.” You can create up to five documents free; after that you’ll need to pay $10 a month or $100 per year for unlimited usage.
  • GoBlc Free online conversion service that will email you the results.

Software to convert PDF files

Software that turns an Acrobat file into something you can edit in another program:

  • PDFConverter: converts PDF to Microsoft Word (this won’t work with scanned image PDF files) ($50)
  • OmniPage: converts any kind of PDF file into an Office document; will also scan or convert an existing document into PDF ($600).

Going To PDF And Back

Here’s a list of services and products that create documents in Adobe’s Acrobat “Portable Document Format” (PDF). (Much of this is drawn from Merle’s article on WebProNews)

(This list will be expanded on and updated at loose wire cache, this blog’s more permanent library.)

Software to convert files to PDF

Software that creates PDF files from other files:

PDFMoto: A Web publishing system that converts documents you create in any Windows application into PDF. They offer several different versions, so pricing varies, but they do offer a free version that is limited to 50 documents.

PDF995 : Free software that allows you to create PDF documents as easily as hitting the “print” key from within any application. The free version has an advertising splash page that comes up everytime you run the program but you can purchase “keys” for $9.95 each to remove them if they bother you.

Txt2PDF: a Perl 5 program that converts your old text docs to PDF format. Runs on any platform that supports Perl. From $40.

Gymnast: freeware text to PDF creator for Windows.

CutePDF Printer: totally free. This software has no annoying ads or banners. Choose print from within any application to create a PDF instantly.

Win2PDF: Windows NT, Win 2000 or XP. From $35 to $70.

PDFCreator: an open-source project on SourceForge.net, installing as a printer driver. (Thanks cmswire for this one, and pointing to the original story.)

pdfFactory: quite advanced PDF creator, including multiple documents into one PDF, preview and font embedding.

Suites that include PDF conversion

The following office suites include PDF printing as part of the standard package:

OpenOffice

StarOffice

WordPerfect Office 11

Other products, such as PaperPort ($100 to $200) and PaperMaster Pro ($200) will allow you to scan or convert a file to PDF as part of the program’s overall document management system.

Online Services

Services that

Adobe Look in the left hand column for the button that says “create PDF online.” You can create up to five documents free; after that you’ll need to pay $10 a month or $100 per year for unlimited usage.

GoBlc Free online conversion service that will email you the results.

Software to convert PDF files

Software that turns an Acrobat file into something you can edit in another program

PDFConverter: converts PDF to Microsoft Word (this won’t work with scanned image PDF files) ($50)

OmniPage: converts any kind of PDF file into an Office document; will also scan or convert an existing document into PDF ($600).