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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reading professional magazines on 7" Tablet

 A magazine on Moon+ Epub reader


All through my career, I have been a regular reader of professional magazines. During my student life, I  used to wait for 3-4 months for IEEE Spectrum to arrive by ship from USA.  About 7 years back, the society improved its delivery mechanism to enable Indian readers to receive their copies by the end of the month in  which the magazine is published   or the first week of the following month. Meanwhile digital revolution and increasing access  of high speed  Internet has enabled instant access to the magazine from any part of the world. Professional Societies also have introduced digital subscription at reduced rates. I was reluctant to take them up, till the rupee depreciated a lot, thereby  increasing the cost of my membership fees.

Initial digital versions were in PDF format. Reading these on Desktop PC/laptop has its fair share of problems, as the magazines are printed in multicolumn format. The typical 14" display does not have the resolution to make the entire page readable. The reader has to use zoom function and repeated scrolling to read an article or take a paper print out for comfortable reading at leisure. Though PDF readers have introduced reflow mechanism so that the multi column format is rendered in single column, the physical magazine layout styles such as bigger first letter or boxed items are not laid out properly when the text is reflowed, making the experience not  so pleasant.

Nowadays many  magazines are offered in  digital versions and some of them  are available in Epub format as well. I wanted to buy a tablet to be able to read with the same kind of experience as physical magazines.  I wanted to have 10" tablet, so that a typical magazine in PDF format can be read with ease.  I was lucky to  receive a  7" tablet in a recent conference that I attended.  I tried to read the Epub format on this device. I am pleasantly surprised by the nice display of the magazine and facilities available for searching, making notes and smooth scroll.

There were emails from some professional societies asking the readers to switch to  digital magazine instead of physical one. I would be happy to switch if they can make the Epub edition available.  Going by the pace of change in digital publishing, I am sure that day is not far off.


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