Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How not to offer a greener option - PDFs that won't print

So, when the lovely salesman over at the Boston Business Journal called to offer me a handy-dandy new (and cheaper!) downloadable PDF subscription, I thought, "great! It'll be good for finding leads, and I can just print out individual articles rather than dealing with a whole huge newspaper. What a nifty green option!"

But then I started getting the PDFs. I downloaded a special pass-word protected file, started reading in Acrobat. Found a company that might be a great lead, and went to print the article.

The problem? The page won't print.

That's right - the PDF edition of the Business Journal is specifically set up so you can't edit or reproduce the file in any way - you can't extract specific pages for future reference, you can't print individual pages. You can't even take a screen capture of the page and print it (believe me, I tried). So how are you supposed to remind yourself of the information you gleaned from the paper?

PDFs are a terrific way to offer folks a greener way to subscribe to their favorite magazine; it gives you the ability to enjoy just the parts you love of the magazine without the paper waste and bulk associated with a printed piece. But a publisher (especially of a mammoth publication like the BBJ) should respect how people sort and store information. I don't need all 104 pages of this PDF - I need, MAYBE, five. And I need to be able to store those 5 pages in some way so I can pay more attention to them later, when I'm focused on new business development. So let me print those five pages. I promise I won't sell them.

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