It continues to amaze me that magazines do not take care to preserve an effective archive of their published issues. Most of the smaller magazines have learned that it is handy and useful to retain an archive of their back issues in PDF form. PDFs are an important insurance policy, even if the publisher plans to deliver the archive in some other way.

The biggest magazine companies often find it surprisingly difficult to lay their hands on a solid collection of PDFs. Sometimes all that they have managed to archive is the vectorised form of the PDF (which means that all the text information in the file is lost). We were running a test for a big magazine and the publisher was appalled to be told that the repro house would charge them £5,000 pa for supplying a PDF of each issue. In these straightened times publishers dont like taking on any additional costs. And why should they? Since spinning a PDF out of the workflow is simply a matter of flipping a switch at the appropriate moment, this is simply outrageous profiteering from the repro house.

Magazine publishers are a special case in this negligence of their archives. Newspaper publishers and book publishers have learned through bitter experience that having a solid archive of PDFs of their publications is necessary. And it is easy to do. The repro houses are only trying it on. If a major magazine tells its repro house that it will lose the business unless the PDFs are supplied on demand, then the repro house will jump to flip the switch….. The cost to them is zero.