Beyond PDF: Digital Delivery Develops

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Upgrading Enewsletter Publishing
Not every publication requires the look and feel of a print publication. The electronic newsletter (enewsletter) has been using a text or HTML email as the traditional delivery method for some time, but as email becomes increasingly crowded, and the use of spam filters more widespread, it is sometimes difficult to get the content to the reader via email.

Chris Pirillo, publisher of multiple newsletters through his Lockergnome Web site, says he is first and foremost a content provider. Once he clicks Send to distribute the email, it's really out of his hands. "My job is to send out content. It's not to try and figure out how to configure the reader's [email or spam-blocking software] or to explain to ISPs we shouldn't be blocked," Pirillo says.

He approaches this problem in two ways. First of all, he outsources email distribution to a service agency who is responsible for dealing with all problems related to delivery. Secondly, he offers RSS as an alternative delivery method. Pirillo says about 10-20 percent of his subscriptions are through RSS, but he thinks it's important to give readers the choice. "How do users want to receive information? Give them the option to choose," Pirillo says.

Gilbane thinks that RSS is only beginning to register with the public. "Most people don't even know what it is, and those that do often don't appreciate the potential, but I see a lot of potential. We have an RSS feed on our site and are getting a lot more traffic on our site. What I don't know is how many email subscribers are using the RSS feed." Gilbane says.

Future of Digital Publishing
NXTbook's Ewald thinks software delivery mechanisms will continue to evolve over the next five years, but that eventually, with the wider proliferation of broadband and the development of a flexible ereading device, we will then see a major shift. "I don't think you'll see tipping points until broadband is more widespread as are [more flexible] reading devices, whether that's going to be tablet PC, or something like epaper, a sheet of paper that looks like a plastic piece of paper and you can fold it up and it's a wireless devices," Ewald says.

Regardless of future developments, the PDF will be with us for some time to come, but that doesn't mean that publishers and enterprise users won't continue to look for alternative ways to present their content online. There are a wealth of choices out there and sorting through them can be daunting, but these choices provide better and more efficient ways to present content. It's up to the content producer to assess the many choices that are available and find the best avenue to get their content into the hands of readers.

Companies Featured in This Article

Adobe Systems, Inc.
The Gilbane Report
Lockergnome LLC
NXTbook Media
NewsStand, Inc.
Verity Systems, Inc.
Zinio Systems, Inc.

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