Monday, March 15, 2010

“Folding the corners down” on electronic magazines…

I’m finding myself more and more drawn to the idea of using electronic magazines rather than print.  Not surprising, considering I come from the deep end of the geek pool, right?

Anyway, a lot of my magazines come to me in electronic form, either in PDF format or via the Zinio service.  There are a few other such services, but Zinio is the only one I’ve found that’s really worth bothering with.

One thing I usually do with print magazines when they come in is to quickly page through each one and dog-ear the pages where an article or ad appears which is of interest to me.  Later, when I have time to get into the serious reading part, I just flip through and go to the pages with the corner folded, and read those articles.

Zinio has a cool feature where you can annotate the information on your page.  You can either use the “highlighter” mode and put a highlight on the article title or advertisement of interest, or you can put a little Post-it type of note on the page with whatever notes you want to make – the digital equivalent of jotting down notes in the margin of the magazine.

The problem with that approach on print magazines is that it would require you to page through the whole magazine to find where the highlights and post-its are located, unless you “dog-ear” the pages to mark which pages have notes.  Zinio makes that easier with the option to “Show Annotation List.”  It puts a list on the right side of the window with a list of all of the annotations you’ve made in the magazine that’s currently open.  Click on the annotation in the list, and you go straight to that page.  Once you’ve finished dealing with whatever you noted, you can delete the post-it note or erase the highlight, and move on to the next thing.

I haven’t yet discovered a way to do that in Adobe Reader yet, but give it time.  I know it can be done in the full Acrobat software, but unless you have a need to create PDFs that are more involved than just using the “print-to-PDF-format” option, getting Acrobat for something like this is more like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer.  Give it time, though, I’ll either find that feature in the free Adobe Reader program, or a free or inexpensive alternative to it somewhere else.  Stay tuned.

-- //Steve//

PS: The only down-side I’ve found so far in using Zinio is that if your magazines come with a free DVD included, you don’t get that DVD with the electronic version.  At least, that’s the case with the publications to which I presently subscribe.  Hopefully as more publishers sign on to the electronic-publishing format, they’ll determine a way to make that possible.

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