Magazines to PDF. Finally.

It’s taken years.

The world of print has been trying to deliver magazine electronically ever since the first user asked, “What’s a PDF?” Screenshot of Winding Road magazine as viewed in Adobe Acrobat

And someone finally got it right.

Last week I opened a copy of the online magazine Winding Road for the first time in months. I was surprised to see the cover. The entire cover. The proportions matched the shape of my monitor– I saw a horizontal spread instead of the usual upright potrait orientation of a paper magazine. “Wow,” I thought, “It’s about time.”

Instead of squinting at a faraway image of an off-the-shelf magazine, or a zoom view of half the cover, I was looking at a purpose-built periodical. At first I thought they might have just set Adobe Acrobat to display the file in spreads. But a closer look revealed the layout was truly situated to take full advantage of the medium.

Get Horizontal, Baby
Through the years I’ve seen several attempts to capture the “magazine experience” in a PDF. Some were minor niceties added to the print layout like embedded bookmarks, linked page numbers, etc. Unfortunately there have been other solutions that I found more painful than the problem. Some of these involved bulky viewers that were time-consuming to download and cumbersome to use. Most of them worked on the principle of turning pages.

I can hear the salesman now, “See, it works just like a real magazine!”

Sorry, but that’s not how a real magazine works. We don’t always turn one. Page. At. A. Time. Besides, there are already little arrows in Adobe Acrobat for previous and next page. Wow!

Often I see a story highlighted on the cover of a magazine that sounds interesting and I turn to it and read. Or more accurately, I look for it. And look. Typically I don’t find it the first time through and only stumble on it later. It’s maddening sometimes, and it’s also nothing but a memory in the world of digital publishing. If you download a copy of Winding Road, you’ll be delighted to find the cover articles are linked. So you’re just a click away.

Winding Road is a free e-zine for automotive enthusiasts available at www.windingroad.com

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