Why Publishers Use PDFs

Jeff Jarvis, writes that the new iPod (which has same functionality as the iPhone -- save the phone part) should have been released first in the US as it was in the US, because then people would have seen the device for the wonder it is -- a portable reader and manipulator of media more functional than other such devices. I see his point.

He also asks why traditional publishers have used PDFs so often for their pages. Here's my read on it: It's because: 1. It's easily published from an existing print page -- same layout, easy export to the software, comes with the same defined edges and look. 2. it's perhaps the easiest distributed format to protect, using digital rights management. they can be forced to not allow certain types of copying or marking or resending. Publishers want control and in many cases haven't bought into the whole idea of net-plus from sharing media. 3. It's been around a long time, and therefore has a comfort level for them. It doesn't requiring new learning or investment. 4. They print easily on 8 1/2 x 11" sheets.

Now, as anyone who's ever struggled with a protected PDF can tell you: they're difficult and often choke email, and aren't very graceful on a lot of screens, and are a lot less attractive than a good page made with good links and Web safe colors. They're not really made for viewing on a screen or manipulating or putting in a widget, etc, etc. A lot of publishers have taken DRM off their PDFs to avoid causing their legitimate subscribers grief.

No comments: