Reading Print Publications Electronically

By Deane Barker • Posted on November 25, 2004

A trend I’ve been seeing lately is distribution of print publications in “reader” software thats presents them just as they were printed. This goes beyond just PDF – entire magazines and newspapers are being pushed to readers with their own software for viewing them.

I tried two such solutions, and they were both quite good.

Both systems have automated downloads – they run a scheduled check for new content, and notify you when it’s downloaded. I’ll gladly admit that it was nice to scan through the New York Times every morning when I got to work. There was something...relaxing, about reading a “paper” with no hyperlinks tempting you off the page, or animated banner ads yelling at you. It felt as leisurely as sitting on the living room floor with the paper spread out in front of you.

This would be a great solution for commuters. Set your laptop to download the paper in the wee hours of the morning while you’re connected, then read it on the train on the way to work. Everything is in one big file, so you don’t need a connection.

One more that I didn’t try: NXTBook

While this stuff is cool in its own right, it highlights one of the big problems with the Web: it’s tough to keep your attention on Web content, because the Web is ever-changing and it’s so easy to get distracted. Hyperlinks beckon you on to more content and you know that different...stuff, is just a bookmark click away.

What I found when reading content designed for print, was that I spent more time reading it. I would actually read an entire article, rather than just skim it, and I could actually be semi-contemplative about something, instead of rushing to finish so I could move onto the next thing. There was an unmistakable sense of peace about the entire process that I’ve just never gotten from Web content.

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