A long, long time ago, there was print. It started with cave drawings, progressed to the printing press and in the last while, moved into the digital realm. But despite the span of thousands of years, the end result has always been the same: print results in a tactile piece that you can gaze upon, touch and (except in the case of the cave drawings) take with you.
Then came the internet, with slick offerings of websites and its ability to showcase everything from books to newsletters. Its proponents proudly proclaimed: Print is dead!
And the world was split.
Gradually, there came tolerance. Online proponents saw the need for print. They realized they enjoyed receiving their annual reports in a brown paper envelope, once a year. They reveled in the feel of their invitations to political fundraisers on silk card stock. And conversely, lovers of the tangible began to enjoy publications like the New York Times online (it’s a weighty paper). There was no intermarriage of the two groups, but they did come to respect each other.
And the world settled into acculturation.
Not so many years ago, however, some visionaries felt the need to go further, to unite print and online communications so that all things could be enjoyed by all people. It started with the printable e-newsletter and web pages optimized for print. It crossed cultural lines when people saw the advantage of carrying hundreds of books in a tablet the size of a paperback. But still, something was missing — a marrying of the technology that made e-communications interactive but still retained the look and feel of tactile print. And thus, of this marriage was born the interactive PDF — a document designed for both print and electronic media.
With its static design, a PDF is easy to print and maintains the look of a book, pamphlet, annual report, etc. Yet, with its ability to support links, it’s a great vehicle to encourage readers to visit other websites and pages. And gone are those old-style PDFs — the ones that force you to scroll through one long and (very) wordy document. Today’s PDFs have flappable pages, just like an old-fashioned book, support many design elements, are easy to read and pleasurable to use.
As an added bonus, there are many sites that allow you to post your PDF online — for no cost. We tend to like Issuu, but there are several similar sites out there including Docstoc, WePapers and Scribd.
There you have it, folks: a history of print from the mind of one Nyman Ink staffer. (And an introduction to the world of interactive PDFs as well.) Hope you enjoyed it!
Header image by Benjamin Earwicker from SXC.