Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thanks for listening, PC Magazine!

(Editor's note -- Yesterday's post, "Observations: The New (Online) PC Magazine", is my traditional once-a-month column that also appears in The Hard Copy Observer. I write that column on a more typical print publication cycle, in this case on a monthly schedule, so it's been complete for a couple of weeks by the time the Observer hits the streets and I then simultaneously post on my blog. As it turns out, PC Magazine responded to some of the criticisms expressed in my column before its publication date, so I am setting the record straight here, and thanks, PC Magazine!)

My last two monthly "Observations" columns, for January 2009 and February 2009, have highlighted PC Magazine's transition to an online-only publication.

In the February version, I highlight the receipt of the first all-online edition, and noted my surprise at its inability (really the Zinio reader's inability) to print more than two pages at a time.

The surprise came when I wanted to print. First, the FAQ’s should have told me all I needed to know—“Q: Can I print? A: Yes. You can print from your digital issue of PC Magazine. The only limitation is that each print job is limited to the visible pages (one or two pages).” So in other words, recreating the print magazine was going to be a lot of trouble, many more steps than simply printing an entire PDF file. My bubble was burst—this is not a case of distribute-and-print nearly as much as a case of moving from print to online. I had pictured a print capability, based on the previous announcements or at least how my personal mindset interpreted those announcements, as sort of a “push one button and the whole magazine spits out” solution. Not the case.

Well, PC Magazine was listening! (Truth be told, they were listening but not to me -- my column was written and "in the can", but not yet published, when I received an email from Stephanie Chang, editor of PC's digital edition, sent to all subscribers.

The February 18th email, after thanking subscribers for coming along for the ride in the switch to all-digital distribution, continues (bold-face emphasis is mine):

To those of you who wrote to us, saying that, unfortunately, the transition was not as smooth as you had hoped it would be, we apologize. We read every email and forum post, and let me assure you, we don’t take them lightly.

We have spoken with Zinio, our digital magazine distributor, and are happy to report that we are making changes to our format and features, to immediately improve your experience with PC Magazine Digital Edition.

Printing: If you view the magazine by downloading it and using the free Zinio reader software, you now have the option to print the entire magazine—or as many pages as you’d like—in one print job. Starting with the February issue, the ability to print the whole magazine or multiple pages at once will be a built-in feature. Important: in order to activate this feature, please download the February issue again and overwrite the copy you have.

The email goes on to address two other improvements, addressing navigation and access issues, but the printing question was clearly top-of-mind!

So thanks PC Magazine and I can't wait to try the print feature. But that will have to wait until the March issue, as I've already read February via the "old fashioned" online method!

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