Why we hate PDFs
This post is also available in: Spanish
When we published Tusk, photobook for iPad, almost an year ago we had the urgency to tell everyone that Tusk wasn’t a simple PDF: Tusk was a fully developed piece of software. People didn’t understand it. I remember they used to share the information about the book saying “Tusk, an ebook… bla, bla”. And we were like “ouch, no, they believe we did a PDF!”.
We love PDFs
We love PDFs. How could we not love PDFs? We have published more than 25 books, 33 online magazines and 7 printed versions… using PDFs. They made us undertand how to layout a book, how to understand the narrative of a book. The sequence. Or the non sequence (I mean, we could also think about Rayuela by Julio Cortázar and its hypertext). The book itself. What makes a book a book.
Digital interactive books and magazines? Then we hate PDFs
PDFs are perfect for printed versions of books. PDFs are annoying when you publish digital-interactive books. They limit you. They limit the readers. They limit the book. They limit the publisher. They limit the artist. They limit. *(We published recently a post about Once Magazine closing because they didn’t control the software which let them publish their digital magazine for iPad).
The easiest solution
For us it could have been really easy to pay a license for Adobe® Publishing Suite and start publishing magazines and books using their software. It would have been a natural path to follow. We already worked everyday producing PDFs. Why not produce PDFs and convert them into Apps?
We think that would be an ugly solution. We wanted to create something specially created for the iPad – and then something specially created for the iPhone. We wanted to take advantage of all these devices, we wanted to think the device, understand it and then create something specially for it. That’s the way we work. Container and contained. There’s a relationship between them that can’t be ignored.
It would not have been easy, either. When we publish printed books we layout the book as we want and we send the book to our favorite (or most competent) printer. We choose the size, the kind of paper we want for our book, the kind of cover we want,… If we’d decided to use the Adobe® solution, we would have lost freedom of choice. They would be our printers in the digital world. The only ones. They would have had the power to decide how a magazine and a book looks in the digital world. How the books and the magazines of the future will look like. How the user experience should be, how the publisher has to interact with the users. The interactivity limits.
Taking control: going beyond any limits
So we took control. We built our own printer. We built our own ‘framework’. We built ourselves a great house which gets better everyday. Our own house. With our own rules. Our way.