Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 3rd Dec 2012 18:52 UTC
In the News News Corp. has just announced its iPad-only newspaper The Daily will be closed down. What do you know, a platform-specific publication fails in the internet era. I totally did not see this coming at all. Times are changing, people. Platform-specific is so 2007.
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RE[6]: Almost completely wrong
by Laurence on Tue 4th Dec 2012 17:21 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Almost completely wrong"
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When publishers distribute their books / magazines / newspapers, they are usually in read-only format anyway, unless it's some really unusual interactive publication or something. So PDF is a good fit.

As I'd already said, PDF is /NOT/ a read only format. In fact I'd argue that HTML is typically more a read only format as it's generally distributed in temporary files served behind read-only HTTP protocols.

However that wouldn't be ideal for books and possibly even magazines as the end user would likely want a permanent version of those publications, unlike with papers which are subject to change daily (sometimes even more frequently). But even in the case of books, PDF isn't be best fit for accessibility reasons (again, as I'd already pointed out).

Take the Kindle, for example. It supports dynamic text sizes (much like how some web browsers do). Trying to mimic the same thing with PDFs wouldn't work because you'd end up having to scroll /and/ page turn (such is the nature of zooming static pages) which is clearly a usability faux pas.

Now I'm not saying HTML is the only solution here, but when the user doesn't care about keeping permanent issues (as is the case is online newspapers) and a publisher wants to retain ownership and allow users to control their own browsing accessibility, then it makes more sense to have a format that marks up in a similar way to HTML and using a similar distribution model to HTTP, even if that format isn't HTML/HTTP specifically.

However I still think HTML makes a lot of sense for such publications; they have hyperlinks that give readers a chance to follow related articles or read more in depth about specific issues regarding the main article. HTML supports embedded videos and audio. And HTML offers readers a chance to comment back (personally I think it's an over-rated feature, but then here I am doing just that). Any competing format for digital newspapers (and bare in mind we are just talking newspapers here; not books nor "ezines") would have to /at least/ support those features if it wants to compete with the plethora of free news sites online. Simply offering a traditional newspaper in a digital format isn't enough; not even if the digital format is presented with pretty "retina-friendly" fonts.

Edited 2012-12-04 17:25 UTC

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