“Exact Editions is great, but why not offer a downloadable version of the magazine, like a PDF?” This seems like a very reasonable request and its one of our more frequent themes in customer support. Here are some of the reasons we do not offer a PDF or issue-download solution:
- If we were to offer this our publishers would reasonably insist on some sort of DRM solution. We do not think DRM (so called ‘Digital Rights Management’ software) is a solution to anything. The publishers would require a DRM system because without it piracy would be rife. Think about it: if it were to be as easy to download issues of magazines from Exact Editions as it is to search issues of magazines we would become a type of Napster service for magazines. Publishers who care about their subscription revenues (most consumer magazine publishers do so care) would hate this.
- Issue download systems appear to be attractive to users who do not consider the difficulties and inefficiencies involved in storing, managing, saving and searching across issues. By providing a convenient and shared access service, Exact Editions is able to solve all these maintenance issues at a stroke. Downloads may appear to be a reader convenience but they can rapidly become a maintenance nightmare.
- The most frequently offered reason for wanting a download is that web access is unpredictable (eg only available through a modem), or we have often heard that users like to read their magazine on the plane, the train etc. There is, of course, reason and force in these requests. But it should be recognised that there are countervailing advantages in a system like the Exact Editions access system which means that you can log in to your subscription from any web-enabled device. There are advantages in not needing to download. Planes and trains are rapidly acquiring in flight web access, and as they do so it will be possible to log in to your Exact Editions subscription whether or not you have (a) remembered to carry your laptop on board (you will use your iPhone or the headrest-mounted web monitor); or (b) remembered to download an issue of a magazine to your laptop.
- In short: the web will soon be everywhere and when it is everywhere and omnipresent, having access to all or any magazine issues will be much, much more important than being able to download individual issues.
PDFs are a brilliant file format for printing and they were at one time the only option for reading magazines and printed books. No longer. Same arguments apply to Flash and all the other file-download solutions out on the market. Database service to which the consumer will have access are generally to be preferred.