Publishing can be easy. With nothing more than a copy of InDesign, independent authors can skip the entire print process saving time and money by exporting a digital file for instant download sales. In the self-published photography world, it feels like the PDF remains the popular choice for those not concerned about DRM. Selling a nicely designed PDF and calling it a book has become very common with the do-it-yourself educators.
Earlier this week a new publication came to my attention when I received a review copy of PHOTOGRAPH — a new quarterly magazine for creative photographers. It already has a running head start for success with a loyal audience to it’s publisher Craft & Vision.
But following that, surveys appeared on social media feeds asking for my preference between PDF and ePub, the sharing of an unfortunate story about Amazon DRM policies, a testing of Blurbs idea of a digital book, and yesterday, KelbyTraining releases their latest ebook as an iPad app. With so many possibilities for distribution, is there a right answer for everyone? And does it matter?
PHOTOGRAPH continues the popular trend of a flat turn-the-page PDF style document. Sure large magazine such as National Geographic are producing highly interactive magazines as iPad apps, but the ability to scroll and zoom in all directions to unlock information can be more confusing than helpful. Maybe even more frustrating than navigating DVD menus.
On the other hand, ePub is the complete opposite and designed for simplicity allowing the hardware to dictate presentation for the best optimal reading experience. It works beautifully for text heavy novels but begins to show it’s weaknesses with books made of only images and diagrams.
With a mixed library of my own containing all-of-the-above formats and also including the traditional and trusty real paper books, it’s hard to claim one file format better than the other. The format should really be decided by the content and how that author or photographer wishes their work to be displayed — even if that means National Geographic or KelbyTraining requiring their audience to own an iPad, NAPP requiring the use of Zinio, or Amazon requiring the use of a Kindle. The consumer will eventually decide which distribution will win as asset management becomes more and more complicated.
PHOTOGRAPH – A Quarterly Magazine for Creative Photographers
PHOTOGRAPH was announced tonight and has been created with the intent to skip the gear talk, skip the advertisements and simply focus on the image. The first half of the magazine has a strong resemblance to LensWork Magazine (also PDF) and comes out of the gate proudly with portfolios from Bruce Percy, Art Wolfe and Nate Parker. It concludes with several articles from a long list of more well known photographers. It’s a well constructed presentation but that should be expected considering the history of Craft & Vision.
PHOTOGRAPH is proud to be 130+ pages and free of advertisements, but this also means it comes with a premium price tag. If you choose to compare on price alone, $24 for 4 issues is more expensive than many traditional magazines but most magazines also only exist to promote products using biased reviews and advertisements often consuming as much as 75% of the material. You do get what you pay for.
I’m still not sure what defines a PDF Magazine from a PDF Book but that’s a minor detail because regardless on if PHOTOGRAPH is here to stay, the PDF (a format I use to dislike), is more popular than ever.